News & Opinion

Who’s got better upside: Matthew Wolff or Collin Morikawa?

Matthew Wolff (left) and Collin Morikawa, both in their early 20s, face tremendous futures on the PGA Tour. So, which one has the greater upside? Hawk & Purk break it down.

Wolff hits it long and finds a way to score, John Hawkins notes, but Morikawa brings a clutch big-game persona, Mike Purkey counters

Hawk & Purk Podcast Hero Article

Hawk’s take: Which young star is likely to shine brighter in 2021, Matthew Wolff or Collin Morikawa?

Hawk’s take: Both are terrific young players, obviously, with ultra-high ceilings and a level of polish you rarely see from guys in their early 20s. Just as a tie goes to the runner in baseball, you rule in favor of the guy with more length off the tee in golf, so I’ll take Wolff. Morikawa might finish his career with more major titles, having already pocketed one at the PGA Championship four months ago, but the big boy with the beard is going to win a lot of tournaments.

Wolff, 21, has the type of raw talent that can make any golf course seem easy. A three- or four-victory haul in 2021 certainly isn’t out of the question. His statistics in 2020 weren’t at all impressive. Lousy sand player. Mediocre putter. Ranked 104th in greens in regulation, 120th in driving accuracy. So, why is Wolff 14th in the Official World Golf Ranking? Because he outplays those numbers. He finds a way to score, minimizes mistakes and basically makes his birdies by driving it a mile.

Morikawa is a true gem, but he’s at least 15 yards shorter than Wolff, which can make a big difference at events where primary scoring opportunities are found only on the par 5s. Funny thing is, Morikawa won the PGA by driving it to 7 feet on the 70th hole at Harding Park, a short par 4. Wolff has more room to improve over the next 12 months, and from what we’ve seen over the last 12, it’s easy to see him becoming one of the best players in the world by this time next year.

Purk’s take: Everything you need to know about Collin Morikawa can be summed up in one shot: The driver he hit on the 16th hole in the final round of the PGA Championship at Harding Park. He stood up on the 294-yard hole, tied for the lead, and striped a high fade that ended up 7 feet from the hole. He made the eagle putt and took a two-shot lead, which would be his margin of his victory.

None of the other contenders that day came close to a shot that good. And that’s why Morikawa won his first major championship and that shot will go down in major-championship lore.

Morikawa might not be as physically gifted or talented as Matthew Wolff, but where he trumps Wolff is between his ears. For someone only 23 years old, Morikawa is an old soul. He knows how to manage his way around a golf course, and he hardly ever makes a bad decision.

Morikawa also knows how to deal with disappointment. He lost the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial when he missed a 3-footer on the first playoff hole. But a month later, he beat Justin Thomas in a playoff to win the Workday Charity Open. That’s something 15 more yards off the tee won’t necessarily buy.

Editor’s note: Wolff is playing this week in the QBE Shootout, a PGA Tour exhibition of 24 two-man teams in which he will be paired with Abraham Ancer at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla. Morikawa, who ranks third on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings, is competing this week at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.