SANDWICH, England – He waved to the crowd, clapped his approval, then stepped over to the microphone like he’s been making speeches for years. Collin Morikawa might have called it the “British Open”, but he mastered the ceremony just as calmly as he mastered the course at Royal St. George’s.
Morikawa is only 24 years old, but plays, plays and talks like he’s been around for decades. He took part in and won his first Open – an accomplishment he had only accomplished twice in the past 25 years.
By playing the final round on Sunday without a bogey and doing multiple clutch putts, it was Morikawa who hoisted the Claret Jug on a sun-drenched day near the English Channel and won his second major while taking major champions Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Louis held Oosthuizen back.
“He’s a special kid,” said Morikawa’s caddy J.J. Jakovic, whose 39th birthday was honored by Morikawa in his victory speech. “I am happy to have it. He seems to have been there 100 times.
“It’s just because of his mental strength and his maturity. If you add the freakish ball hit to his absolute cold stone behavior, who is very comfortable in all situations, you get someone who is very special. He seems to be big Cut off places better. ”
It is rare for someone to learn about links golf for the first time and master it so quickly.
Ben Curtis made it here 18 years ago, winning the Open on his first attempt at a major. Before that, you have to fall back on Tom Watson in 1975, who won the first of his five Claret Jugs on his first attempt in Carnoustie.
Watson has often said that while winning the Open he had to learn to adopt the style of golf himself.
“I won two Open championships in the first three years that I wasn’t particularly fond of links golf,” said Watson a few years ago. “I had a mental turning point at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s in 1979. I was more critical of the golf course than playing the golf course. I didn’t like that attitude. It was a lousy attitude to try to win a golf tournament. Finally I had a good conversation with myself and started playing the golf course the way it was supposed to be played. After that, I kind of kept up with it. I didn’t want to go out with a negative attitude towards playing the courses. ”
The only adjustment Morikawa needed was his irons. Last week, when he got his first taste of links golf at the Scottish Open, he struggled to get a clean shot with his short irons.
So he switched out the 7, 8, and 9 irons and immediately noticed an improvement. He wasn’t afraid to make a putting change the night before the tournament, either. He realized that his claw putting grip was not effective on longer putts because the fescue putting surfaces at Royal St. George’s are much slower than what he was used to at PGA Tour events in the United States.
Morikawa went conventionally on longer putts and the results were stunning. He seemed to be doing every big putt he needed. He made eight birdies on his last 31 holes and did not card a bogey.
“I got out this week and I wasn’t worried about playing against everyone else,” he said. “I’m just trying to learn the golf course. And learning a links-style golf course is hard because there are so many slopes and I like to know everything. I want to know every little detail that is possible, but that’s out here heavy.
“So you have to be precise in everything. That’s how I saw it – as a challenge. “
The big change in the tournament came on Sunday when Morikawa made his first birdie of the day on the seventh par-5 hole. On the same hole, Oosthuizen made a bogey. The tour was 2.
Nobody, including Spieth, who also shot 66, could ever get him.
Morikawa wouldn’t let her. He rolled a nice birdie putt on 14th, saved a great par on 15th when it seemed like it might get tight. On the 17th par 4, Morikawa chased a small 125-yard wedge shot onto the green, the perfect links style that many take years to learn.
For the week, Morikawa only did four bogeys. He hit the ball like Jack Nicklaus and putted like Tiger Woods. And he was the first male golfer to win two major championships on each debut. He won the PGA Championship when he first played it in 2020.
Jakovic explained Morikawa’s ability to hit the ball in simple terms: His spread rate is simply lower than that of other players. He hits a 6 iron as accurately as others hit a 9 iron. Hence any length he gives up from the tee is not that much of a disadvantage.
“He swings the club wonderfully, puts it in positions that make it very, very difficult not to start the ball online. Therefore, it will be very consistent from tee to green,” said Spieth Hits and the putts he putted, he is not afraid of high pressure situations and winning a big championship. ”
In the past 11 months (due to the coronavirus pandemic) there have been seven major championships, one player championship and two golf world championships. Morikawa won three of them – the PGA, The Open, and a WGC event – bringing his PGA Tour total to five in just over two years.
So far the relationship has been pretty good. While playing college golf in Cal, Morikawa won five of his 48 tournaments. So far he has won five of 50 as a professional, plus two of eight major championships with two other top 10 finishes.
Morikawa makes it look normal. He was calm when he won, then calmed down to speak to the thousands lining the 18th hole bleachers, noting that the biggest golf crowds since the pandemic began were some of the best fans he has seen or heard Has.
“To be named as the winner of the Open Championship, to be named as the championship winner of the year, makes me shiver,” he said.
OK, so it’s “Champion Golfer of the Year”. And “The Open”.
But Morikawa was so adorable in the win that he got a pass.
What will be remembered for much longer is that his name is engraved on the Claret Jug.