Collin Morikawa had a weekend for the ages, making history as he captured the 149th British Open championship.
With the win, the 24-year-old Morikawa became the first golfer ever to two of the sport’s major events in his debuts. He finished first at the 2020 PGA Championship.
Morikawa shot a bogey-free, 4-under 66 on Sunday, finishing two shots better than fellow American Jordan Spieth. His 15-under 265 was a 72-hole record in the tournament at Royal St. George’s.
He began the final round trailing South African Louis Oosthuizen by a stroke, but continued to play near-flawless golf to take the lead after Oosthuizen’s bogey on the par-5 seventh hole.
Morikawa is the first player since Bobby Jones in 1926 to win two majors in so few appearances. He joins some rare company in winning two majors before the age of 25: Gene Sarazen, Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Spieth.
Only Morikawa and Woods have won The Open and PGA Championship before age 25.
After only eight starts, Morikawa is already halfway to the career Grand Slam.
After Sunday’s win, Morikawa said it was was difficult for him to put it into a historical context.
“At 24 years old, 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.
With five wins on the PGA Tour and two major championships under his belt, Morikawa is hearing the term “prodigy” quite a bit these days.
“He’s a special kid. I’m lucky to have him. He seems like he has been there 100 times and he hasn’t,” caddie Jonathan Jakovac said Sunday. “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 very comfortable in all situations … and you get someone special.”
Putting was a key to the title for Morikawa. Ranked 172nd on the tour in putting, he finished the Open with a tournament-best 111 putts and didn’t have a three-putt all week.
“Definitely one of the best putting performances of my life, especially inside 10 feet. I felt like it was as solid as it’s going to get. I don’t think I really missed many from that distance,” he said.
“Everything about my stats say I’m not a good putter. I feel like I can get a lot better. But in these situations, I feel like everything is thrown off the table. Forget about all your stats, it’s who can perform well in these situations.
“I’m going to try to figure out what worked today and use that for the future because I know I can putt well in these pressure situations. I’ve just got to keep doing that.”
Morikawa’s career is off to a remarkable start, just two years after graduating with a degree in business from UC Berkeley.
“Collin really makes us all so proud,” said Walter Chun, director of men’s golf at the university. “He has put in so much time and has made many sacrifices to get where he is today. Cal has so much to be thankful for as he represents our university so well.”
An All-American all four years in college, Morikawa is a graduate of La Cañada High School who was a four-time Rio Hondo League MVP. He won the 2015 Champions Invitational in Long Beach by a whopping 14 shots, including an opening-round 61.
His other highlights at Cal include being named AmateurGolf.com’s Player of the Year for 2016, finishing his senior year as the Pac-12 Men’s Golfer of the Year, and making history when he and two teammates became the first trio of Team USA players to record perfect 4-0 records to help lead the Americans to a 19-7 Pac-12 Men’s Golfer of the Year victory over Great Britain and Ireland in 2017.
Morikawa said enjoying the moments while he’s on the course has been a key to his success thus far.
“I talk about it so much that we love what we do and you have to embrace it. You have to be excited about these opportunities, and that’s how I looked at it today, especially coming down the stretch.
“When you’re in these moments and you truly love what you do, which I love playing golf and competing against these guys, these are the best moments ever.”
There is more history to be made for Morikawa this summer, as he will be representing the United States at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The men’s golf tournament gets under way on July 25. He will enter the competition as the fourth-ranked golfer in the world.