Morikawa a double major winner and looking for more

Filed on July 19, 2021
US golfer Collin Morikawa poses with the trophy after winning the British Open. (AFP)

Next up for Morikawa is Japan for the Olympics, a chance to go from a silver jug to a gold medal

In a year of firsts in the majors, Collin Morikawa might have topped them all.

His performance over four days at the British Open was unlike anything seen at Royal St. George’s, even in such ideal weather for the English coast.

In his first real test of links golf, Morikawa didn’t make a bogey over his final 31 holes, blowing past mistake-prone Louis Oosthuizen and never flinching as Jordan Spieth made one last charge late Sunday afternoon.

Morikawa made three straight birdies at the turn to build a four-shot lead. He made a 20-foot birdie on the 14th when Spieth had closed to within one. He saved par with a 10-foot putt on the next hole for breathing room.

He played with the confidence of a major champion, which he is from his PGA Championship title last year. He showed the experience of a veteran. That part is up for debate.

“When you make history — and I’m 24 years old — it’s hard to grasp,” Morikawa said.

The silver claret jug in his possession as he stood on the 18th green, Morikawa first paid tribute to Matthias Schmid of Germany, who won the silver medal as low amateur.

“It feels like literally two years ago I was an amateur,” Morikawa told him.

That is entirely literal.

Two years ago, the ink was barely dry on his diploma from Cal. In the eight majors Morikawa has played since then, he has won two of them. The last player to win two professional majors in so few attempts was Bobby Jones nearly a century ago.

“It’s so hard to look back at the two short years that I have been a pro and see what I’ve done because I want more,” he said. “I enjoy these moments and I love it, and I want to teach myself to embrace it a little more.”

The major season began with Hideki Matsuyama becoming the first Japanese player to win the Masters. Phil Mickelson became the first player at age 50 to win a major at the PGA Championship. No one had ever birdied the last two holes at the US Open to win by one shot until Jon Rahm at Torrey Pines.

And then along came Morikawa, as pure an iron player as there is in the game today, making his own brand of history. He is the first to win two majors that he played for the first time.

Just under a year ago in his first time playing the only major restricted to pros, he won the PGA Championship at Harding Park by boldly hitting driver on the 16th hole for a 7-foot eagle. And then he won the British Open in his debut with a 4-under 66 to finish at 265, the second-lowest score in the history of golf’s oldest major.

“He’s got the potential and the game, and the head, to be able to manage any kind of bumps in the road,” Spieth said.

Next up for Morikawa is Japan for the Olympics, a chance to go from a silver jug to a gold medal.

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