In his eighth start in a major championship, 24-year-old Collin Morikawa recorded his second victory in one in less than a year. At Royal St George’s on Sunday, he added to the USPGA Championship he had won in San Francisco last August – then in front of no fans – and became only the eighth male golfer under the age of 24 to win two majors. The others? Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. Morikawa’s victories in both the USPGA and the Open were achieved in his first starts in those championships. As suggested by the photo on the home page, the weather last week was mostly marvellous.
Morikawa’s 15 under par total arrived on the back of a bogey-free final round of 66, four under par, giving him the title by two shots from the aforementioned Spieth. Eleven years to the day after he had won the Open at St Andrews, Louis Oosthuizen again came close only to be denied, finishing in a tie for third with Jon Rahm, the only guy to finish ahead of him the US Open last month.
“It’s so hard to look back at the two short years I’ve been a pro and see what I’ve done, because I want more,” said the new champion. ”I love playing golf and competing against these guys; these are the best moments ever.”
In the two previous Open Championships, Branden Grace (he of the record-breaking 62 when Spieth won at Birkdale in 2017), had played the first two rounds with the eventual winner – Francesco Molinari (2018) and Shane Lowry (2019). His partners this time? – Spieth (nearly) and Bryson DeChambeau (not close). Morikawa overcame that omen as well.
DeChambeau had emphatically put his foot in his mouth after the first round at Sandwich by complaining that his Cobra driver “sucks”. Ben Schomin responded on behalf of the company by calling DeChambeau’s comments “stupid”. 15-all if this were tennis, I guess. Enjoying the spat in the background…well, more like from the foreground, actually, was Brooks Koepka, who seems constantly at odds with his rival. Koepka told the Golf Channel on Friday “Drove the ball great. Love my driver” and followed that by posting a photo of himself with said club and a tweet which read ‘Driving into the weekend.’ (At this point, DeChambeau was looking likely to miss the cut.)
Steve Stricker, the US captain, has let it be known he is not happy about two of his Ryder Cup team for September’s match at Whistling Straits being at such public loggerheads. He would therefore probably not have been best pleased to learn of another certain starter, Justin Thomas, weighing in with a disparaging tweet which described DeChambeau as “Mr Physics”. (Morikawa, also on the team, has wisely stayed out of this.) Separated by five shots going into Sunday, both DeChambeau and Koepka shot 65, five under par. In the case of the latter, this had the potential to be serious stuff. He was eight under par with six holes to play but could only manage to par the remaining holes in and was therefore unable to put pressure on the sharp end of the leaderboard. That’s not to say that Morikawa would have been perturbed if he had.
Finally, Marcel Siem. The German, winner of four titles on the European Tour, celebrated turning 41 on the first day of the Open. He had latterly lost his tour card but a win on the Challenge Tour the previous weekend secured him a place in the field at Sandwich. His belated birthday present to himself was a tie for 15th, all the more admirable for including a triple-bogey eight after a drive out-of-bounds at the 14th on Saturday, after which he birdied two of his four remaining holes. He ended his week on Sunday with a birdie at the last.
Morikawa ended his week with a solid par-four…and an early place in the sport’s record books.