Collin Morikawa, who had his first ever winless season in his career, has now added a putting coach to his team. At this week’s World Wide Technology Championship in Mayakoba, Stephen Sweeney began to work with the two-time major champion.
Andrew Kipper, Morikawa’s agent and Sweeney confirmed the move. Kipper confirmed that the star, who is 25 years old, has never worked with a putting instructor before. Sweeney, an Irish-born professional golfer, is based out of Jupiter in Florida. His clients include Shane Lowry and Aaron Wise as well as Joaquin Niemann and Carlos Ortiz.
Morikawa’s frustration with his putting is evident in this year’s results. He changed putters several times at the Presidents Cup. Since winning the DP World Tour Championships in Dubai last November, his results have stalled. Two weeks later, he lost a five shot lead at Hero World Challenge. His best finish in 20 worldwide starts was a T-2 at Genesis Invitational in February. Since the Genesis, he has been in four top 10s, including at the Masters, U.S. Open and the Genesis Invitational. However, he has not won. He is now No. From a high of second place in April, he has fallen to No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Morikawa’s putting statistics are not flattering despite his major wins and PGA Tour victories. He has been ranked 128th in Strokes Gained – Putting over three seasons. He is currently ranked 202nd through two events this season, though the Zozo Championship didn’t collect any detailed data. He finished last month’s CJ Cup 77th among 78-man fields.
Morikawa, who was flying from the CJ cup to Florida for a TaylorMade commercial shoot, discussed his putting with Wise. He then texted Sweeney several days later. They spoke for a long time last Sunday, and they met again the following day.
Sweeney explained that they talked Sunday to gain a sense of direction and then worked into the darkness at Mayakoba Monday morning,” Sweeney said to Golfweek. “Tuesday, we worked before and afterwards his round, and on Wednesday before the pro-am,” Sweeney said. They focused mainly on speed control which Morikawa believes has been a problem for him lately.
Morikawa shot an even-par 72 in Thursday’s first round and then followed that with a bogeyless 63 on Friday. Although the World Wide Technologies Championship putting statistics are less detailed than Strokes Gained data they still provide Morikawa with an average of 1.75 putts per round in regulation during the first round and 1.563 in regulation on day 2. He averaged 1.825 putsts per green in regulation at the CJ Cup over four rounds.
“We don’t have clear stats so we aren’t numbers-driven.” Sweeney stated that he doesn’t know exactly how close he is to hitting the ball into the hole. Sweeney said, “But he is excited about the direction it is moving in.”
Sweeney stated that Morikawa had never before had a coach who was focused on his putting. He didn’t have any structure to his putting. Sweeney stated that he was very feeling-oriented. Sweeney said that the feeling he had when he won the PGA was quite different from the one he felt when he won the Open. He would become hot with his putting, but he wouldn’t know what it was. Then he’d get cold.
Another Sweeney client witnessed the change in person. Pereira met Morikawa in a Presidents Cup singles game. He later shared with Sweeney that he was amazed at the American opponent’s performance. They were again paired in the final round CJ Cup when it turned out that the opposite was true. Sweeney laughed and said, “Same putter. Same grip. Same guy.” Sweeney said, “I have no idea why he putted differently each day.”
Sweeney stated that the goal was to provide a foundation for Morikawa to use when things don’t go as planned. He has that ability in his full swing. He knows why he makes mistakes when he hits a shot. The coach said that he doesn’t have that baseline in his putting. He hopes that this structure will allow him to be a better putter than Morikawa.
Sweeney stated that Sweney is a “good putter” because he can putt well on all types of grass. He cited his strong performances on Bermuda, bent greens and other surfaces at different speeds. He is able to putt on any surface which is rare in men.