He’s too mild-mannered to get as visibly agitated as some of his peers but there was no mistaking the exasperation simmering within Collin Morikawa as he faced yet more LIV Golf questions at the Scottish Open today.
The subject of the Saudi-funded interloper continues to be the game’s dominant narrative, and for good reason.
Only last week, Greg Norman’s new enterprise staged its second lucrative event, in the midst of which it announced the signing of Ryder Cup star Paul Casey. The Englishman is the latest high-profile player to succumb to LIV’s advances, joining a roster that now boasts Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter… the list is growing.
Morikawa, though, won’t be adding to it.
Last month, as rumours swirled that he might be on the brink of joining the rebel alliance, the 25-year-old issued a withering and definitive rebuttal on social media.
“To state for the record, once again, you all are absolutely wrong,” he tweeted. “I’ve said it since February at Riviera that I’m here to stay on the PGA Tour and nothing has changed. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some cereal to pour in my milk.”
It was approaching lunchtime when he met with the media at The Renaissance but his appetite for LIV clearly hasn’t changed.
“There’s 14 of the best 15 players [playing this week],” he groaned. “You guys write the stories, every one of you guys here, and you guys can write the stories about anyone else. We hear a lot of stories about players that are here that come to these press conferences but you maybe don’t write stories about other people that are interesting.
“Every single player out here, like Billy [Horschel] said, every single player, every single member on the PGA Tour, and every single member on the DP World Tour, has a story. Sometimes guys don’t want to share their story but sometimes they do. I think it’s your guys’ job to go out and find these stories that are interesting.
“Obviously, we are in Scotland so you guys might write about Scottish players but, when we’re at other events, find things guys might have ties to.”
Frustrating. Annoying. Those are two other words Morikawa used to describe the current focus on LIV. He might have said it all with his usual easy demeanour and Kodak smile but there was unmistakable aggravation on the American’s part that, once again, he was having to field questions about, as PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan recently described it, an “irrational threat”.
“It’s funny because we go back to my press conference at the US Open, and simply because I reiterated what Brooks had said, that it was frustrating, that made it seem as if I was going to LIV,” he added.
“Now, if someone says it’s frustrating and they compare it to Billy Horschel, does that mean they are all staying on the PGA Tour? It’s funny because we all have our opinions, right? We all have what we want to say but all I want to do is focus on each week and focus on the tournaments. That’s why I said it at the US Open because we were there at Brookline and there was a lot of history. I don’t care about anything else.
“Same thing this week. I have already shut it own. I shouldn’t have to worry about it. You guys shouldn’t have to worry about it. Let it go. We are here with an amazing field. That should be a storyline.”
He’s correct. Of course, he is. But there is a fascination about LIV that cannot be denied. A fascination that can be measured in page views, clicks, comments, engagement and a whole other bunch of quantifiable data that is both irrefutable and impossible to ignore. If and when the public demonstrates a lack of appetite for LIV, the focus will shift. It’s basic supply and demand.
Deep down, Morikawa will know that. As he reminded everybody today, he’s a business graduate from UC Berkeley. who just so happens to be one of the world’s top golfers. Getting to the very top, he concedes, tied him up in knots at the beginning of the year. But now? Now, he’s trying to take a more relaxed approach to the rankings.
“I’ve heard players talk about this and I’ve paid attention to it,” he said. “Where I’m at now, Scottie [Scheffler] has built a gap between us and I just want to get back in the winner’s circle.
“I was so focused on hitting that perfect cut and hitting these perfect shots that I knew could get me to No.1 in the world that it kind of took over rather than me just playing golf.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t hit me until, you know, a few weeks ago at the US Open where I said, screw it, let’s just go play golf.
“When I was 1,000 in the world coming out here, I still believed that I could be No.1 and I still believed that I could beat all these guys. I think when I put my head to that and put my mindset to that point, I’m like, okay, we’re just here to play golf. We’re here to enjoy it and we’re here to win.”