Collin Morikawa has pledged $1,000 for every birdie he makes in the FedEx Cup playoffs to help rebuild Maui, where wildfires have killed at least 53 and active rescue missions continued Thursday.
Most of the village of Lahaina was destroyed and the surrounding communities were devastated. President Joe Biden has declared a national emergency.
“Maui has always had a special place in my heart — my grandfather owned a restaurant called The Morikawa Restaurant on Front Street in Lahaina,” Morikawa said in one Instagram post announces his plans. “The people of Hawaii will need all the support we can give them. During the playoffs, I will donate $1,000 for every birdie I make.”
The playoffs began Thursday in Memphis, Tennessee with the FedEx St. Jude Championship. Morikawa finished the opening round with six birdies when he scored a 5-under 65 and finished in third place by the end of the game, two shots behind leader Jordan Spieth.
The playoffs last a total of 12 rounds during the Tour Championship at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club, with the top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings qualifying for next week’s BMW Championship and the top 30 then advancing to the finals.
Morikawa, 26, said he will send the money raised to Maui United Way and World Central Kitchen to help survivors on Maui and elsewhere in Hawaii.
Morikawa grew up in the Los Angeles area, but he said his father always spent summers in Lahaina because his grandparents were there. The Morikawa Restaurant closed a few years ago, although a few years ago a local happened to find a matchbook from the restaurant on eBay and made efforts to bring it to Morikawa through the PGA Tour and Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua.
“It’s devastating what we’ve seen,” Morikawa said in Memphis. “The before and after photos are just heartbreaking knowing my dad’s entire family grew up there. My grandparents were born in Lahaina. We had the restaurant out there. That’s what…” [Instagram] photo was. We were there as kids. It’s a special place.
“It’s amazing how many things in life you really take for granted and when you see that, it’s just heartbreaking.”
The PGA Tour plays several events in Hawaii, including the Sentry, Maui’s high-priced signature event. The tournament takes place at the Plantation Course in Kapalua, where Morikawa tied for second place earlier this year. In four starts there he has never finished worse than seventh place.
Morikawa said he hopes other people will follow through on his promise and donate to his birdies.
“Look, it’s one of the best places in the world that we travel to Kapalua year after year to go and play golf,” he said. “I know I’m going to ask my sponsors, I’m going to ask people I know to just help. … I’ll work hard to make those birdies and hopefully everyone else can come forward and help as best they can.
Morikawa’s grandparents moved to California and he said most of his relatives moved to Oahu but he still has relatives in Maui.
“I think they’re fine but just to hear … woke up this morning just watched the news and seen how many people have died from it, yeah. I’m at a loss for words.” he said.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.