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SILVIS – It's very obvious that the young guns working their way onto the PGA Tour have remarkable skill and great golf games.

Collin Morikawa, who is coming off a second-place tie at last week's 3M Open with 2017 John Deere Classic champ Bryson DeChambeau, is also proving to have a pretty good head on his shoulders.

The 22-year-old is making his fifth professional start at this week's $6 million John Deere Classic as he shoots to improve on his special temporary status on the world's top golf tour. He knows becoming a full-time Tour member takes game, but he's also bright enough to know there are other ingredients involved.

The May graduate of Cal-Berkeley with a business administration degree is a quick learner in that regard, too.

He has surrounded himself with good people, including his caddie. J.J. Jakovic was on the bag here in 2016 for JDC champ Ryan Moore.

“My caddie J.J. knows the course really well,” said Morikawa. “He knows what to do.”

Morikawa also understands the value of information and education. To find out what it takes to play well at TPC Deere Run this week, he knew where to go.

“Having Michael Kim win here last year is really special,” said Morikawa of his fellow Cal-Berkeley grad and defending JDC champ. “I kind of picked his brain a little bit to see what he did to shoot 27-under par. That's pretty good. 20-under par was really good last week, I thought, and 27 this week would be really good.”

Record-setting good.

But that is another thing that sets apart these young guys breaking into professional golf. They know how to win and aren't afraid to go low and battle shot-for-shot with the veterans. Matthew Wolff, in his third pro start, won last week's 3M Open at age 20 years, 2 months, 23 days. He was the ninth-youngest winner in Tour history and the youngest since Jordan Spieth won the 2013 JDC at age 19 years, 11 months, 18 days.

Amazing accomplishments, both, that show some of these guys are just special.

They are ready for the show, being groomed for success on the major-college and top amateur levels. There is little fear once they tee it up with the best in the game – the guys they once idolized.

“You know, it's crazy, I think as a little kid I would have had that kind of star-struck feeling, but it's weird, I don't, which I think is a good thing and a bad thing,” said Morikawa. “Yes, these guys have done amazing things for the game and I respect them, and it's cool to be playing along with them. ... And that's what I want to do, I want to play along the best players in the world and compete with them when they're playing the best.

"And what happened last week was three of us were playing really good golf — I mean, I think there was like eight guys at the top of the leaderboard at some point, and that's what you want. It's not — I'm not going to step away from that challenge. I want that challenge. I want everyone to play well. But I want to be playing just a little bit better than them.”

Which makes one of the most important hurdles — earning your card and playing privileges — that much easier.

Another part of the pro education is adjusting to life on Tour. Morikawa said that process has been aided by having his girlfriend travel with him, which helps take his mind off golf when needed.

He mentioned something told to him by Justin Thomas: “You can expect so much, but you've got to go out here and learn.”

Morikawa equated this summer of Tour events to the first few days of college when, "You have no clue what to expect, and everyone is just as lost as you are," he said.

However, he has admitted the lessons started quickly.

"I've been able to learn from these guys and just kind of pick their brains on just what Tour life is like," he added.

So, what has been the biggest lesson so far?

“I think the biggest thing is that these guys are just normal guys,” he said of the pros on Tour. “We're talking right now, that's how I'm going to talk to them. You know, it's just getting to know them on a different level. You see them on TV, you see them play golf, but when you're able just to talk with them, play a practice round, it just makes it fun, and that's what we're out here to do.”

Along with learning.

And winning.



Tom is a sports reporter for Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com.

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