Collin Morikawa has pledged $1,000 per birdie he makes in the FedEx Cup playoffs to aid recovery on Maui, where wildfires killed at least 53 people and active recovery missions continued Thursday.
Most of the village of Lahaina was destroyed, and surrounding communities were devastated. President Joe Biden declared a national emergency.
“Maui has always held a special place in my heart – my grandfather owned a restaurant called The Morikawa Restaurant, on Front Street in Lahaina,” Morikawa said in an Instagram post announcing his plans. “The people of Hawaii are going to need all the support that we can give them. During the course of the playoffs, I’m going to donate $1000 for every birdie that I make.”
The playoffs began Thursday in Memphis, Tennessee, with the FedEx St. Jude Championship. Morikawa finished the opening round with six birdies as he shot a 5-under 65 and was tied for third, 2 shots back of leader Jordan Spieth, at the conclusion of play.
The playoffs continue for a total of 12 rounds through the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, with the top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings qualifying for the BMW Championship next week and then the top 30 making the finale.
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 Hawai’i.
Morikawa grew up in the Los Angeles area, but he said his father used to spend summers in Lahaina because his grandparents were there. The Morikawa Restaurant closed several years ago, although a local man happened to find a matchbook from the restaurant on eBay a few years back and worked through the PGA Tour and Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua to get it to Morikawa.
“It’s devastating what we’ve been seeing,” Morikawa said in Memphis. “The before-and-after photos are just heartbreaking, knowing that my entire dad’s side of the family grew up there. My grandparents were born in Lahaina. We had the restaurant out there. That’s what the [Instagram] photo was. We went there as kids. It’s a special place.
“It’s amazing how many things you take for granted really in life, and when you see that, it’s just heartbreaking.”
The PGA Tour plays multiple events in Hawai’i, including the Sentry, the high-purse signature event on Maui. The tournament is held at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, where Morikawa finished in a tie for second earlier this year. In four starts there, he has never finished worse than tied for seventh.
Morikawa said he hopes other people will join in on his pledge by contributing for his birdies.
“Look, it’s one of the best places in the world we travel to year in and year out to go to Kapalua, play golf there,” he said. “I know I’m going to ask my sponsors, I’m going to ask people that I know just to help out. … I’m going to be pushing hard to make those birdies, and hopefully everyone else can reach out and help out as much as they can.”
Morikawa’s grandparents have moved to California, and he said most of his relatives have moved to Oahu, but he still has relatives on Maui.
“I think they’re all right, but just to hear … woke up this morning, just checking the news, and to see how many people have passed away from that, yeah. I’m at a loss for words,” he said.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.