Collin Morikawa Wins the British Open in His First Appearance

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Louis Oosthuizen had certainly paid his dues since winning British Open in 2010, finishing as runner-up on six occasions at major championships. Jordan Spieth had paid a couple of, too, reviving his fading game after two years of struggle. But Collin Morikawa may be a young man during a hurry, and on Sunday, he again proved that have was overrated, winning British Open on his first attempt by outplaying Oosthuizen within the final pairing and holding off Spieth on the closing holes.

“You need to embrace it,” Morikawa, a 24-year-old Californian, said. “You need to be excited about these opportunities, and that’s how I checked out it today, especially coming down the stretch.”Much easier said than done, but Morikawa looked focused yet not too tightly wound from the start: chuckling together with his caddie, J.J. Jakovac, because they walked up the primary fairway then holding remarkably firm as the pressure continued to rise on another sun-drenched afternoon at the Royal St. George’s Golf Club.

He won’t have won a British Open in classic conditions — howling winds, driving rain, and summer chill — but he still won it a la mode. He made four birdies and nary a bogey as he shot a four-under-par 66 to end at 15 under, two strokes before Spieth, who was playing within the penultimate group and playing alright. “Clearly, with the shots, he’s hit and therefore the putts he’s holed, he’s not scared of high-pressure situations and winning a serious championship,” Spieth said of Morikawa. Royal St. George’s is that the same venerable and undulating English seaside course where another young American, Ben Curtis, prevailed on his first visit in 2003.

But Curtis was an enormous surprise who has yet to win another major. Morikawa is a longtime threat who was ranked fourth within the world when he arrived in Sandwich. Last year, he won the P.G.A. Championship, also on his first attempt, calmly staring down a closely packed leaderboard within the closing holes at T.P.C. Harding Park in San Francisco to say his first major.“It’s an equivalent thing I said after he won the P.G.A. It looks like he’s been there 100 times, and he just hasn’t,” Jakovac said. “It just goes to his mental strength and his maturity, and you add the freakish ball striking to an absolute stone-cold demeanor who is extremely comfortable altogether the situations — you get somebody pretty special.”

Morikawa is that the first player in men’s golf to win two different major championships in his introduction at them. He graduated with a business degree in 2019 after four years at the University of California, Berkeley. he’s not the longest hitter and has sometimes struggled mightily together with his putting. His dreamy long-iron play is that the core of his game. Slow backswings are his hallmark. he’s a deliberate player — the unexamined shot is certainly not worth hitting — but he clearly features a knack for preparing himself mentally for the game’s biggest challenges. I’ve had belief in myself from Day 1 that I turned professional that I can roll in the hay ,” Morikawa said.

“When it involves these tournaments I’ve never played, I do my work, do my homework Monday through Wednesday to understand what I even have to try to do.”With little experience on links courses, he visited the Scottish Open the week before arriving at Royal St. George’s. He decided to vary his 7-, 8- and 9-irons before the beginning of British Open. On Wednesday, the day before the tournament began, he decided to revert to a standard putting grip for long-range putts to urge more power. It worked, and though he ranks near rock bottom of the PGA Tour’s putting statistics this season, he put beautifully struggling, particularly on Sunday

But while deep research and smart changes clearly have their benefits, it’s still difficult to model outcomes like Sunday’s once you are within the final pairing of a serious trailing a former champion like Oosthuizen by two shots at the beginning of the round with 32,000 fans gathered outside the ropes and prepared to roar from the knolls and ridges. He won the P.G.A. Championship with no fans on-site due to the pandemic.“I hope the thing is off the table that I can play with fans and that I can play well on a Sunday,” Morikawa said. He took it beat on this particular Sunday and didn’t crack. Instead, it had been Oosthuizen, the 38-year-old South African, who did not close despite leading throughout much of the tournament.

Morikawa took a share of the lead at the fourth hole and took the outright lead for the primary time within the tournament on the par-5 seventh, knocking during a tap-in birdie after Oosthuizen had hit his approach into a bunker then mis-hit his next shot into another bunker across the green. Oosthuizen finished with a bogey 6: a two-stroke swing in what felt, at that stage, like golf . Morikawa never relinquished the lead despite an ingenious charge from Spieth, the 27-year-old American who won the 2017 British Open.

After a shaky start, Spieth made an eagle on the seventh and need to within round of Morikawa’s lead when he sank a birdie putt on the 14th hole to travel to 13 under. But Morikawa, cognizant of Spieth’s surge, quickly gave himself more cushion by making a curling uphill birdie putt on the 14th hole to maneuver to fifteen under. Spieth couldn’t manage to shut the gap despite all the spring in his step and urgency in his words as he talked to his shots in midair. Morikawa closed out his latest remarkable major by making par on the ultimate four holes, with the sole genuine scare coming at 15 where he hit his approach into deep rough. But he chipped to within 10 feet then made the putt. He finished with a 15-under-par total of 265 after receiving an ovation from the complete grandstand on the 18th hole. Spieth was second at 13 under. Oosthuizen and Jon Rahm, this year’s U.S. Open champion, tied for third at 11 under.

“I’m glad I look calm because the nerves are definitely up there, but you channel these nerves into excitement and energy,” he said. “That’s how I check out it, especially as those last nine holes were coming in. Jordan was making birdies. i feel Rahm was pushing. Louis had a birdie on 11, a tremendous birdie. You can’t worry about the score. I had to stress about every shot. am i able to execute every shot to the simplest of my ability? Some we did, some we didn’t, then you progress on.”

Morikawa is merely the second player to win twice in his first eight majors. the opposite was Jones in 1926. For reference, it took Tiger Woods 18 starts to win his first two majors. that’s to not imply that we should always be rushing to match Morikawa to Woods, a 14-time major champion who became one of the most important stars in global sports. But Morikawa has major dreams of his own.

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