SANDWICH, England — He waved to the group, clapped his present of appreciation after which stepped to the microphone like he is been giving speeches for years. Collin Morikawa might need known as it the “British Open,” however he nonetheless dealt with the ceremony as coolly as he did the course at Royal St. George’s.
Morikawa is simply 24 years outdated however performs, acts and talks like he has been round for many years. Competing in his first Open, he received it — a feat completed simply twice beforehand prior to now 50 years.
By taking part in the ultimate spherical Sunday with no bogey and several other occasions making clutch putts, it was Morikawa hoisting the Claret Jug on a sun-splashed day close to the English Channel, profitable his second main whereas holding off main champions Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen.
“He is a particular child,” mentioned Morikawa’s caddie, J.J. Jakovic, whose thirty ninth birthday was acknowledged by Morikawa in his victory speech. “I am fortunate to have him. He looks as if he is been there 100 occasions.
“It simply goes to his psychological energy and his maturity. You add the freakish ball putting to his absolute cold-stone demeanor who may be very snug in all of the conditions, you get somebody who may be very particular. He appears to carry out higher in huge spots.”
It’s uncommon for somebody to tackle hyperlinks golf for the primary time and grasp it so shortly.
Ben Curtis did it right here 18 years in the past, profitable The Open in his first try at any main. Earlier than that, it’s important to return to Tom Watson in 1975, who received the primary of his 5 Claret Jugs at Carnoustie in his preliminary try.
Watson has usually mentioned that even whereas profitable The Open, he needed to study to embrace the fashion of golf.
“I received two Open championships the primary three years I performed not notably liking hyperlinks fashion golf,” Watson mentioned a number of years in the past. “I had a psychological turning level in 1979 at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s. I used to be criticizing the golf course quite than taking part in the golf course. I did not like that angle. It was a awful angle to have if you are going to attempt to win a golf match. I lastly had an excellent discuss with myself, and I began taking part in the golf course the way in which it needs to be performed. I sort of acquired with it after that. I did not wish to exit with a damaging angle about taking part in the programs.”
The one adjustment Morikawa wanted was to his irons. Final week, getting his first style of hyperlinks golf on the Scottish Open, he discovered problem in getting a clear strike together with his brief irons.
So he modified out the 7-, 8- and 9-irons and instantly discovered enchancment. He additionally wasn’t afraid to make a placing change on the eve of the match. He realized his claw placing grip was not efficient on longer putts, as a result of the fescue placing surfaces at Royal St. George’s are a lot slower than what he was accustomed to placing on at PGA Tour occasions in the USA.
Morikawa went typical on longer putts, and the outcomes have been beautiful. He appeared to make each huge putt he wanted. He made eight birdies over his final 31 holes and didn’t card a bogey.
“I got here out this week and did not fear about taking part in towards everybody else,” he mentioned. “I am simply attempting to study the golf course. And studying a hyperlinks fashion golf course is hard as a result of there’s so many slopes, and I wish to know every thing. I wish to know each little element doable, but it surely’s laborious to try this out right here.
“So it’s important to be exact about every thing, That is how I checked out it — as a problem.”
The large shift within the match got here Sunday, when Morikawa made his first birdie of the day on the par-5 seventh gap. On the similar gap, Oosthuizen made a bogey. The lead was 2.
No person, together with Spieth, who additionally shot 66, may ever catch him.
Morikawa would not allow them to. He rolled in a pleasant birdie putt on the 14th, saved an ideal par on the fifteenth when it appeared issues may get tight. On the par-4 seventeenth, Morikawa chased a bit 125-yard wedge shot onto the inexperienced, the proper links-style method that many take years to study.
For the week, Morikawa made simply 4 bogeys. He hit the ball like Jack Nicklaus and putted like Tiger Woods. And he turned the primary male golfer ever to win two main championships in his debut look in every. He received the PGA Championship the primary time he performed it, in 2020.
Jakovic defined Morikawa’s ball-striking means in easy phrases: His charge of dispersion is just smaller than that of different gamers. He hits a 6-iron as precisely as others hit a 9-iron. Subsequently, any size he may hand over off the tee just isn’t as a lot of a drawback.
“He swings the membership superbly, will get it in positions that make it very, very tough to not begin the ball on-line. So due to this fact, he’ll be very constant tee to inexperienced,” Spieth mentioned. “Clearly, with the pictures he is hit and the putts he is holed, he is not afraid of high-pressure conditions and profitable a significant championship.”
Prior to now 11 months (due to the coronavirus pandemic), there have been seven main championships, a Gamers Championship and two World Golf Championship occasions. Morikawa received three of these — the PGA, The Open and a WGC occasion — upping his PGA Tour complete to 5 in simply greater than two years.
To this point, the ratio is fairly good. Whereas taking part in school golf at Cal, Morikawa received 5 of his 48 tournaments. As far as a professional, he is received 5 of fifty, plus two of eight main championships with two different top-10 finishes.
Morikawa is making it look regular. He was calm in victory, then comfy in speaking about it to the 1000’s who lined the 18th gap grandstands, remarking that the most important golf crowds readily available for the reason that begin of the pandemic have been a number of the finest followers he has seen or heard.
“To be known as the Open championship winner, to be known as the championship winner of the 12 months, it offers me chills,” he mentioned.
OK, so it is “champion golfer of the 12 months.” And “The Open.”
However Morikawa was so endearing in victory, he will get a move.
What shall be remembered far longer is that his identify is engraved on the Claret Jug.