Collin Morikawa has officially secured his spot in the Sentry next season, which means he’ll be headed back to Hawaii in January.
While that’s still months away, Morikawa admitted to being fearful of seeing Maui after the devastating and deadly wildfires that hit the island this month.
“Going back to a place like that where I know I have so many connections … It’s going to be very eerie,” Morikawa said Tuesday from the BMW Championship, via Golf Digest.
At least 99 people have died after wildfires broke out on Maui this month as of Tuesday, according to The New York Times, though that death toll is expected to rise in the coming days. The fires, which essentially completely destroyed the town of Lāhainā, are the deadliest in the United States in more than a century.
Morikawa has plenty of connections to Hawaii, and even Lāhainā specifically. Several of his family members were born and raised on Maui, and his grandfather owned a family restaurant in Lāhainā. Morikawa was born in Los Angeles himself, but he still has family living in Hawaii.
Morikawa announced before last week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship that he was planning to donate $1,000 for every birdie he made during the FedExCup Playoffs. He made 15 birdies and an eagle last week, which totaled $17,000 for the Maui United Way. He said this week that he plans to donate funds from the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields to the World Central Kitchen.
The PGA Tour holds two tournaments in Hawaii every year. The Sentry — formally known as the Sentry Tournament of Champions — is held in January at the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui. The course sits about 11 miles north of Lāhainā. The second event, the Sony Open in Hawaii, is held a week later in Honolulu.
“Every year we would always walk by the store that ended up being where the Morikawa restaurant used to be,” Morikawa said, via Golf Digest. “I am very scared. But I think with being scared, also you need to step up. You need to be courageous, you need to be brave. We have that ability to reach out to millions of people, [with] our network of the PGA Tour and being professional athletes, to make it better [raise money and aid]. Find charities, find ways to help out these people because, they’re doing all they can and it’s always nice to have a helping hand.
“Golf will be very weird that week, I guarantee that. It’s only a handful of months away. Even with that time, stuff can’t be rebuilt that quickly.”
Morikawa, 26, has won five times on the PGA Tour. He enters this week ranked No. 22 in the FedExCup standings after his T13 finish last week in Memphis. Only the top 30 in the standings will qualify for the Tour Championship next week.
“It’s really sad that it happened over there, especially for a culture that cares about their native land as much as the Hawaiians do,” Jon Rahm, who is No. 1 in the FedExCup standings, said on Tuesday. “You don’t want to see that happen.
“If we do go and play [at Kapalua], I’m hoping through the tournament we can help the community as much as we can.”