By Jason J. Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. This month, we write about a new PGA champion and Naomi Osaka’s boycott.
23-year-old wins PGA Championship
Los Angeles-native Collin Morikawa won the PGA Championship in San Francisco in August. The Cal-Berkeley alum won the title in just his second entry in a major championship. His final round of 64 was the lowest final round shot by a PGA champion. His win was marked by a remarkable shot on hole 16 in the final round. He hit a 293-yard tee shot that ended up 7 feet from the hole. He was able to sink the putt to pull away for the eventual win.
Morikawa noted that the announcer mispronounced his name at the start of his round. Instead of Morikawa, he thought his name was “Morikama.” He jokingly told a reporter after his victory that his round was “off to a great start.”
Morikawa was poised throughout the four-day tournament, but became somewhat flustered during the trophy ceremony when the top of his trophy fell off. The trophy had a top which can be removed and unbeknownst to Morikawa when he raised it for the cameras, it fell off. With an apologetic look on his face, Morikawa seemed to give an apologetic sorry to the tournament organizers and press.
Morikawa, who is half Japanese, graduated with a degree in business administration from UC-Berkeley and while in school was a four-time, first-team All-American golfer for the Golden Bears. His golf accolades made him the top-ranked amateur golfer in the world in May 2018. He turned pro in 2019.
Morikawa’s current girlfriend, Katherine Zhu, was a collegiate golfer at Pepperdine University. He noted that it was important to have Zhu at the tournament as a source of emotional support. He joked that he did not start winning in college until they met.
Morikawa is a golfer that is on the radar as one of the sport’s next big stars.
Osaka stages boycott
Naomi Osaka continues to be a leader on and off the tennis court. Osaka, who is half Haitian and half Japanese, has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Movement and overall need for social justice. Osaka decided not to play her scheduled match in a tournament prior to the U.S. Open. She announced her method of protest on social media.
“…before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman. And as a Black woman, I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis,” Osaka added, “I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport, I consider that a step in the right direction.”
Osaka’s comments came the same week after a Kenosha, Wisconsin man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times in the back by police and days later two protestors were killed by a 17-year-old gunman. The escalation of violence upset many athletes as the NBA postponed games and several major league baseball clubs, including the Seattle Mariners, decided to hold off games to bring attention to the issue.
“Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach,” wrote Osaka in the same post.
Her means of using her platform as a way to create discussion is one that many other sports and entertainment stars are doing. Osaka did not let her one-day protest end as she continued her entrance into the U.S. Open the following week.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.