Collin Morikawa may have been the most successful majors player in a year full of firsts.
His performance at the British Open over four days was unmatched, even in the perfect weather conditions for the English coast.
Morikawa won his first test of links golf and didn’t make any bogeys over his last 31 holes. He blew past Louis Oosthuizen, who was prone to making mistakes, and never faltered as Jordan Spieth took one final charge late Sunday afternoon.
Morikawa had three straight birdies at turn to take a four-shot lead. After Spieth had been within one, Morikawa made a 20-foot birdie at the 14th. For breathing room, he saved par by making a 10-foot putt at the next hole.
He played with all the confidence of a major winner, as he was from his PGA Championship title last season. He displayed the wisdom of a veteran. This part is open to debate.
Morikawa stated, “When you make history — I’m 24 years of age — it’s difficult to grasp.”
Morikawa, holding the silver claret cup in his hand as he stood on 18th green, first paid tribute to Matthias Schmid, Germany, who won silver as a low amateur.
“It feels like it was literally two years ago,” Morikawa said to him.
This is all literal.
His Cal diploma was barely dry two years ago. Morikawa has won two majors in the eight majors he’s played since then. Bobby Jones was the last professional major winner in as few attempts nearly 100 years ago.
He said, “It’s hard to look back at two short years as a professional and see what’s been done because it’s so difficult to see the things I’ve accomplished.” “These moments are special to me and I love them. I want to learn to enjoy it more.
Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese player ever to win the Masters. Phil Mickelson, 50 years old, became the first player to win a major at PGA Championship. Jon Rahm at Torrey Pines was the first player to birdie the U.S. Open’s last two holes and win by one shot.
Morikawa was a pure iron player, creating his own history. He was the first person to win both majors, even though he only played once.
He won the PGA Championship at Harding Park less than a year ago, his first major that was restricted to pros. He won the British Open with a 4-under-66 score to finish at 265, which is the second-lowest score ever recorded in the history.
Spieth stated that Spieth has the potential and the ability to handle any bumps in the road.
Spieth is an expert on bumps. He was 23 when he won the Open at Royal Birkdale 2017. He didn’t win again for almost four years and had to rebuild his swing as well as his confidence.
Although it is not all the way back it is close. Spieth will recall the bogey bogey finish Saturday, when he was in a position to make birdies on both holes. This kept him from the final group and kept him on the chase.
The final 12 holes were played in 6 under. He thought it was enough, but Morikawa needed some help.
Spieth stated, “I needed a break and he didn’t give it to me.”
Morikawa was able to count on Oosthuizen for many of his shots, including the par-5 seventh hole. This hole was the most difficult of the round. Oosthuizen hit a second shot from the fairway with an iron and made bogey. He was tied for the lead, but Morikawa won by two shots.
Morikawa birdied his next two holes, and he was soon on his way.
The 30,000 plus fans cheered Rahm’s four consecutive birdies in a late-bid, and Spieth’s four birdies over a six-hole stretch.
This is what Morikawa did not face at Harding Park. It was the first major without spectators. What would that have done?
Morikawa participated in 20 tournaments around the world with no spectators and only a few spectators since March. The British Open boasted the largest gallery since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Spieth stated, “Then you step in 35,000 and holding on to a lead down that stretch.” He spent almost a year in a crowd-free environment. It’s more difficult. It is more difficult when there are large crowds. It’s more tangible. It’s easier to know exactly where you are. It’s a larger stage.
“I find that to be impressive.”
Oosthuizen ended a difficult year in the majors. Oosthuizen was second in the majors and Rahm tied him for third. He left the event without speaking with the media. Instead, he offered a tweet saluting the fans and congratulating Morikawa on his class and determination.
Morikawa moved up to No. Morikawa moved to No. 3 in the world. Five of his 52 events worldwide have been won by him, including two majors as well as a World Golf Championship. He leads the European Tour and PGA Tour points lists. He is at the top of the Ryder Cup standings.
The company he keeps now defines his status better.
Only seven other golfers have won two majors in the last century — Jack Nicklaus and Gene Sarazen, Spieth, Jones and Gene Sarazen, Jack Nicklaus, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Balesteros, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jack Nicklaus and Gene Sarazen.
Morikawa’s next stop is Japan for Olympics. This will give him the chance to move from a silver medal to a gold one. As if it matters, he has never participated in the Olympics.