NAPA VALLEY, Calif (October 5, 2016) -- Cal Berkeley sophomore Collin Morikawa has received a sponsor's invitation to play in the Safeway Open, the first event of the 2016-17 PGA Tour season played at Silverado Resort October 13th through 16th.
The exemption reflects Morikawa's ascension into the top ranks of amateur golf within the past few years. He had an impressive junior career that included multiple appearances for the West in the AJGA Wyndham Cup, a win at the Western Junior, and a dominating win at the Trans-Miss Am which included three consecutive rounds of 64.
Morikawa started his freshman year at Berkeley last fall and quickly made a statement, shooting a course-record 62 at Lake Merced Golf Club to dominate the team's first qualifier. He would go on to earn All-American honors and the PAC-12 freshman of the year.
This past summer, Morikawa took home the Sunnehanna Amateur with a final-round 62, made it to the round of 16 in the U.S. Amateur, and nearly won the Web.com Air Capital Classic after shooting back-to-back rounds of 63 over the weekend and losing in a playoff.
Morikawa, currently ranked No. 2 in the AmateurGolf.com world ranking, received the exemption via Jeff Sanders, the executive tournament director of the Safeway Open.
“Jeff Sanders contacted me and my coach (Walter Chun), saying that I was in,” Morikawa told the Napa Valley Register. “It definitely was a surprise. I wasn’t pushing for anything, but I’m thankful for this opportunity and will do just whatever I can to learn from it. I’m really excited.”
Also receiving an exemption in the tournament is Stanford senior Maverick McNealy who is coming off his win the Nike Invitational on Tuesday. While this is Morikawa's first PGA Tour event, McNealy will draw on his experience from 2015 in which he competed in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Barbasol Championship, and the Greenbrier Classic.