What 2 amateurs learned from US Open practice with Collin Morikawa


Collin Morikawa takes a shot during his practice round Tuesday at the US Open.


BROOKLINE, Mass. — Collin Morikawa walked the streets of The Country Club Tuesday morning, and was showered with praise by the throngs of fans who followed him. After all, he is a two-time Grand Slam winner and one of the most universally appreciated players in professional golf. He was used to that kind of treatment.

However, next to Morikawa were a couple of unfamiliar faces. Instead of playing with other Tour stars in preparation for the US Open, the 25-year-old latched onto a couple of amateurs: Nicholas Dunlap and Michael Thorbjornsen.

Not that you knew they were amateurs from their looks. Both players are sporting staff bags this week, just like the pros, and their approach to the practice rounds looked pro too. On every hole, they prepared for every conceivable scenario: chips from unusual places, delayed putts from the far corners of green surfaces, and the right lines for blind landing areas.

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Then there was the way they hit the ball.

Dunlap and Thorbjornsen each have that sound when they make contact, and they overtake Morikawa in a series of holes. If power is the trend of the game, the next generation is doing its part. these guys can to smoke it’s.

“[Michael] he’s a great player,” Morikawa said. “He’s got a great future ahead of him if he still wants to keep doing it… It was a lot of fun watching him and Nick go back to the way he was three or four years ago trying to take it all in.” in.”

Morikawa isn’t the only one who left the day impressed. After their nine-hole tour of The Country Club on Tuesday morning, caught up with the two fans to get their take on playing a two-time Grand Slam winner.

This is what they had to say.

Nicholas Dunlap

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Nicholas Dunlap is among the top junior golfers in the country, and his victory in last summer’s US Junior Amateur earned him a spot on this week’s course. It’s an opportunity you don’t take for granted.

“It’s revealing,” Dunlap said. “You are 18 years old and you are playing on the greatest stage in golf with a great champion. He is great. “

Dunlap said the biggest takeaway from the day was learning how to manage his schedule as he makes the jump from junior golf to amateur golf (and eventually professional golf).

“I just took his brain on time management,” Dunlap said. “Especially in weeks like this. I think that will really help me move forward.”

Michael Thorbjornsen

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Even at the ripe old age of 20, Michael Thorbjornsen has a decorated resume. He has already made a cut at the US Open (2019) and his notable wins include the US Junior and Western Amateur. Yes, he has a serious game.

But even with a resume most fans would kill for, Thorbjornsen knows he has a lot to learn. And he brought that mindset with him to his practice round with Morikawa (whom he calls his “favorite player”).

“I asked [Morikawa] on our fourth hole today, ‘What is the one thing you would tell me to improve, to go to the next level? Because I will,’” Thorbjornsen said.

Morikawa’s response was simple: reduce your three putts.

“It’s something I already knew, but hearing it from him means more,” said Thorbjornsen.

The lessons did not end there.

“He also gave me some advice on playing with the biggest players I can, the ones I admire the most,” said Thorbjornsen. “Because that will make him feel more normal out there. Like it’s just another round of golf.”

Consider that mission accomplished at The Country Club. Publisher

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor at, where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Before joining the team, he attended the University of Texas, followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He helps with all things instructional and covers amateur and women’s golf.