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La Cañada's Collin Morikawa makes a name for himself

La Cañada freshman looks to build on stellar debut season as a sophomore

July 07, 2012|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
(Roger Wilson/Staff…)

Collin Morikawa carried a buzz with him when he transitioned from La Cañada High 7/8 to the high school this past summer. It was no secret what the freshman could do on a golf course.

La Cañada's Daniel Rhee, who will be one of the Spartans senior captains next year, knew of Morikawa from junior tournaments the two played in together — albeit in different age groups — and saw it as a forgone conclusion that Morikawa would be a leader in his debut season.

"I would always see him winning every other tournament he was playing in so I knew he was good," Rhee said of Morikawa, who turned 15 this year. "I didn't realize he was going to be a freshman this year until one of my teammates told me there was a really good freshman coming in. I had high expectations for him and he met those."

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Even with the hype, it's hard not to be impressed with what Morikawa accomplished in 2012. He became the first freshman to ever win the Spartans' most valuable player award after he led La Cañada to the Rio Hondo League and De Bell Invitational team titles, while capturing both individual championships himself, and posted a team-best 34.1 nine-hole scoring average, which was more than two strokes better than second-place Joshua Suh (36.2).

"I didn't realize he was going to be a statistical leader," La Cañada Coach Richard Tetu said. "I knew he was an experienced golfer and I heard the kids talk about him and a couple of teachers in his eighth grade classes, who I knew from golf personally, said he was a good player, but I didn't think he would be as outstanding as he was."

Morikawa's freshman season earned him the 2012 All-Area Boys' Golfer of the Year accolade, as voted by the sports editors and writers of the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press, La Cañada Valley Sun and Pasadena Sun. The Spartans have swept the award the past four seasons with Morikawa being the only underclassmen in that span.

"I guess I feel different [from other freshmen]," Morikawa said. "I know I have friends who are freshmen on other varsity teams, but I had to really work my way up there. Hopefully other people see that and just try to work as hard to get on that team."

There's no secret to Morikawa's success, it's pretty evident to whoever sees him play a round.

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