What's In The Bag - Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa treated the world of golf with yet another exhibition of his generational talent, as the 24-year-old produced one of the greatest final rounds of his career to date.
It appeared to be destined that Rory McIlroy would mark his return to form with the European Tour’s grandest prize, but a stuttering Sunday performance of 74 dampened his chances and the opportunity was cruelly ripped from him.
Both Sam Horsfield and McIlroy had enabled themselves as early frontrunners, as the pair set the pace for the first three rounds of the season finale.
However, Morikawa - in true Morikawa fashion - remained on the toes of the leaders, and his three rounds of 68, 68 and 69 would have kept them expectedly nervous.
However, on a day that produced excellent scoring conditions for the field, Horsfield and McIlroy failed to take advantage of their fine position and stumbled down the final leaderboard.
As Morikawa made his way to the 12th tee, there was an extraordinary amount of work to be done if he was seeking to become the first American to win the Race to Dubai.
Birdies on 12, 14, 15, 17 and 18 propelled the two-time major champion into a three-stroke lead which remained intact after Alexander Bjork and Matthew Fitzpatrick shared T2nd.
The strength of Morikawa is highlighted by the fact that this isn’t the greatest win of his career but it did mark the 60th start of his professional journey.
Since then, he has managed to: win two majors, record six overall wins, four runner-up finishes, 24 top 10s, missed the cut on five occasions, earned $18.5M, became the first American to win the Race to Dubai and his inaugural appearance as a Ryder Cup player finished 3-0-1 - yeah, he’s pretty special.
It’s difficult to determine what his career highlight is, having won two majors. Whilst you could argue the Open Championship holds enhanced pedigree, the PGA Championship was his maiden major victory.
However, considering it was his debut in Open Championship golf and that he had only played once professionally in Britain - the week before - this conquest must top the ever-increasing impressive list.
Morikawa had travelled to Britain the week prior to the Championship, which allowed him to feature at the Scottish Open held at the Renaissance Club.
Perhaps his first test of true links golf, the young American struggled and finished 71st, which gave the impression he may be human after all.
The world’s leading players congregated at Royal St George’s for the 149th edition of this prestigious competition and one man stood out.
Louis Oosthuizen has previous with this event - winning the 2010 tournament - and he came into Kent with fine form, having secured two runner-up finishes in his last two major starts.
The way the South African not only managed the course but manipulated it to his advantage on the opening day was perhaps one of the greatest spectacles of the week.
He finished with 64 (-6) and held a one-shot lead over both Brian Harman and Jordan Spieth (-5), while Tommy Fleetwood, Morikawa, Justin Rose and Scottie Scheffler occupied T9th with opening 67s (-3).
If the chasing pack were hoping for a blemish or two from the overnight leader they were quickly brought back down to reality as Oosthuizen produced yet another exhibition of his fine talent.
In the process of carding 65 (-5), he set the 36-hole Open Championship scoring record at 11-under-par and looked to separate himself from the rest of the field.
However, Dustin Johnson (65) placed himself nicely up the leaderboard and Spieth (67) remained three shots back from Oosthuizen but Morikawa’s 64 was the joint lowest of the round from anyone in the top 10, yet he remained two shots back from the South African at the halfway point.
The third round highlighted that this competition was edging towards a two-horse race as scoring opportunities dried up significantly.
The leader could only post 69 to extend his score by one, while Morikawa chopped into his lead after a 68 but Spieth could only match the 69 set by the 2010 champion.
Heading into Sunday and Oosthuizen held a one-shot lead over Morikawa, who was positioned two shots better than third-place Spieth.
Having recorded three rounds in the sixties, another similar performance would have probably resulted in the second major championship for Oosthuizen.
Morikawa started in steady fashion, parring his opening six holes before three consecutive birdies edged him into the lead.
From there, it was all about maintaining the slender advantage he had carved for himself, but as Oosthuizen was imploding on the course, Spieth emerged as an unlikely rival.
Nevertheless, one final birdie on the par-5 14th was enough for Morikawa to become the first player since 2003 to win in their Open Championship debut.
Additionally, he became the first player to win two major championships from his first eight career starts since Bobby Jones - including the first to win two different majors in his tournament debut.
What's In The Bag - Collin Morikawa
Driver - TaylorMade SIM 8.0°
Fairway - TaylorMade SIM 14.0°
Fairway - TaylorMade SIM 19.0°
4-iron - TaylorMade P770
5/6-iron - TaylorMade P7MC
7-PW - TaylorMade P730
Wedges - MG2 50° and 60°
Putter - TP Juno
Ball - TP5 2021
2021 Seasonal Statistics
Another monumental year for Morikawa that has unsurprisingly resulted in further glory - is there a limit to his vast potential?
The 24-year-old is the hottest property in golf at the moment and we rarely see an uninspiring performance from him.
While he was crowned Race to Dubai champion, he had actually only played in two previous European Tour events this season - not including majors or World Golf Championships - so we will analyse his stats from the previous PGA Tour year.
Below are his 2021 seasonal statistics:
Driving Distance - 295.2 yards (112th)
Driving Accuracy - 69.60% (10th)
Greens in Regulation - 70.80% (5th)
Birdie Average - 4.23(16th)
Scoring Average - 70.109 (20th)
SG: Putting - -.457 (178th)
FedEx Cup Regular Season Points - 2,171 (1st)
With the annual golfing calendar slowly being brought to a close, it’s unlikely we’ll see Morikawa back in action until the new year.
However, January signifies the start of a new chapter and with four further majors to play for - in addition to World Golf Championships - Morikawa will undoubtedly be out for further glory whilst simultaneously hoping to dig his mark on the sport of golf a little deeper.
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