Maiden Voyage: Collin Morikawa Wins The Open

The 24-year-old holds off Jordan Spieth to win in his first Open. A final round wrap-up that includes Ledes, Quotables, Stats, TV Notes and Tweets.

What is it about Royal St George’s and Maidens?

While not as surprising as Ben Curtis in 2003, Collin Morikawa’s first crack at The Open provided a thrilling conclusion to the seventh major in 346 days and salvaged the precision game. The southern California native also put to bed the whole “he won a major with no crowds” narrative.

Since the R&A put the par-protecting aside Sunday and returned to a nice mix of hole locations under the 80-degree blue skies, the proceedings were about the players and skill. How refreshing.

We’ll have plenty of time to analyze the course because I’ll be clinging to the links season much longer than most. Plus, I want to reflect on Royal St George’s more before typing. Needless to say, it put on a good show in spite of humans doing their best to control scoring.

For now, a roundup of ledes describing Morikawa’s two-stroke win over Jordan Spieth for his second major championship victory in less than year.

Ledes

Ewan Murray, The Guardian: “Collin Morikawa set his sights on further major glory in the immediate aftermath of winning the Open Championship. He made history at Royal St George’s by becoming the first debutant to win both the US PGA Championship and the Open. Morikawa’s victory was by two shots from Jordan Spieth. He is now halfway towards a career grand slam of majors.”

Christopher Clarey, The New York Times: “The young American Collin Morikawa arrived at the Royal St. George’s Golf Club for his first British Open and played like a master of links golf, finishing at 15 under par to win by two strokes and hold off the past major champions Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen.”

Derek Lawrenson, Daily Mail: “From spectral calm in San Francisco last year to thunderous acclaim at the 149th Open on Sunday evening, Collin Morikawa didn’t just place his name next to the legends of the game, he achieved something that’s earned him a page in golf lore that will surely forever remain his own.”

Stephen Douglas, AP: “Collin Morikawa gazed adoringly at the claret jug, thrust it into the air and then gave it a kiss, a two-time major champion at age 24. This time there were people to cheer him. The American closed with a bogey-free, 4-under 66 and won the British Open in his debut Sunday, becoming the first player to capture two different majors on the first attempt.”

Michael Bamberger, Golf.com: “How was your Sunday? Maybe you were one of the 30,000 there, at Royal St. George’s. (Lucky you.) More likely, and like us, RSG came to you through TV magic. Coastal England, funny-bounce golf, for evil and for good. The breeze down, the sun out. Greens as slow as your shower mat. Ye olde jug, etched with all those famous names, waiting for someone to come on home. Blokes you could root for, up and down the yellow board.”

Bob Harig, ESPN.com: “He waved to the crowd, clapped his show of appreciation and then stepped to the microphone like he's been giving speeches for years. Collin Morikawa might have called it the "British Open,'' but he nonetheless handled the ceremony as coolly as he did the course at Royal St. George's.”

Daniel Rapaport, GolfDigest.com: “Collin Morikawa captured his first major with a chip-in and an all-time drive. He earned his reputation as golf’s premier ball-striker with a metronomic iron swing. He’d really be something, the thinking went, if he could just find common ground with the putter. The all-time greats find the bottom when they need it most.”

Mark Tallentire, Sydney Morning Herald: “Collin Morikawa is the British Open champion, the young Californian with the cool demeanour and intelligent outlook chasing down playing partner Louis Oosthuizen and holding off the resurgent Jordan Spieth to become the first man to win the world’s oldest major at his first attempt since Ben Curtis in 2003 on the same course. He seems destined to win many more.”

Phillip Reid, The Irish Times: “For a player rightfully praised for the sheer quality and majesty of his iron play, Collin Morikawa’s imperious performance in the 149th Open Championship at Royal St George’s - where the 24-year-old American claimed his second career Major, adding the Claret Jug to the Wanamaker Trophy of last year - showcased that other elements, his putting and his scrambling, were the primary tools in enabling him to claim victory.”


Key Stats

Some numbers picked up in tournament notes and Twitter, with a special thanks to the PGA Tour Communications team for several of these:

  • First player to win two different majors in his first attempt

  • Seventh player in Open history to win debut appearance and first since Ben Curtis at Royal St. George’s (2003). The others: Jock Hutchison (1921), Denny Shute (1933), Ben Hogan (1953), Tony Lema (1964), Tom Watson (1975)

  • Joins this elite list of players with multiple major wins before 25: Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth.

  • Joins Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win multiple majors before age 25 when trailing entering the final round.

  • Fell one stroke shy of Henrik Stenson’s Open record 265 scoring record.

  • Fifth PGA Tour win and moves to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

With the R&A’s 20th century stats, we are limited with fun stuff like strokes gained, hole scatter charts and even finding out how many &^%$#@ fairways someone hit in a round.

Anyway, the “summary” for the top 11 players includes highlights of the top-10 rankings in each category. The birdies probably should have been ignored and my focus turned to fairways, greens, putting and distance. After all, leaders usually make a lot of birdies.

Note how success this week was achieved a number of ways, but as with past RSG Open Championships Morikawa separated himself with the irons and putter.


This is pretty staggering:

A few quick course stats:

  • Sunday’s final round average of 69.623 was the lowest-ever for an Open final round

  • Two players posted four rounds in the 60’s and did not win.

  • Royal St George’s gave up the most rounds in the 60s since Turnberry in 1994.

You get the idea. Without Saturday’s pins the winning score would have been lower. The final course stats:


Quotable Morikawa

🍔 Collin Morikawa on his “secret” this week: “I never do this, but I had a burger for four straight days, so my body is probably feeling it. I know my body's feeling it. I think I just enjoy these moments, and 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, was I'm excited.”

👨🏻‍💻 On his iron switch after experiencing fescue fairways during the ardvrk Scottish Open last week: “I was just rolling the dice on hoping these irons would work. I didn't know if they were going to work. There was no real answer, and I still need to figure out the answer. Even though I struck it really well, but I need to know an answer why.

⌳ On winning in his first try over a links: “Learning a links style golf course is tough because there's so many slopes, and I like to know everything. I like to know every little detail possible, but it's hard to do that out here. So you have to be precise about everything, and that's how I looked at it as a challenge, and I look forward to it.”

🇿🇦 On his pairing with Oosthuizen: “Louis is an outright amazing player and person. I hope I get more pairings with him because he's just a great guy to play with. Just everything about it, tempo. It's nice to see another guy just stripe it down the middle. I mean, when I watch him play and hit his drives, I'm like, Wow, I want to hit it like that.”

😁 On his attitude: “I think enjoying every moment you can, even though sometimes frustrating, you look at some of the best players, their demeanor is that calm, cool, relaxed, but they're so driven, right? The end goal is still there. So we've had tough days. We've had good ones. You try and remember the good, forget the bad, and then move on.”


Quotable Spieth

😡 Jordan Spieth on Saturday’s bogey-bogey finish. “[I] was about as upset as I've taken a finish of a round to the house. I walked in and wanted to -- I said, Is there something that I can break? I knew that was so important because I would have been in the final group.”

🤓 On Morikawa’s Sunday play. “I needed a break, and I didn't get it from him. I did all I could. So I'm upset because I really felt like I played well enough to win and made a couple of really dumb mistakes that possibly, if I had maybe played the week before, wouldn't have made.”

🥳 On Royal St George’s: “I did enjoy this golf course from when I first played 12 holes last Sunday, and I thought that it was quirky in a fun way. I think only late today did we start to see the wind that the course is designed…to play in. So I don't think we got the same test as those guys have had in years past. But even saying that, each hole provided its own kind of unique way to play it because of that.”

⛳️ On the setup: “I thought that the R&A did just a fantastic job of allowing the scores to happen. I mean, the pins were on some pretty diabolical locations, but it stayed, I think -- didn't let it get out of hand firm to where you had no chance and it became luck or bounce dependent.”

👴🏼 On Morikawa’s maturity: “Clearly, with the shots he's hit and the putts he's holed, he's not afraid of high pressure situations and winning a major championship. Is he 21? Is that it? How old is he? I don't even know. 24? At 24 obviously there's a bright future ahead. That's pretty special.”

🤩On Morikawa winning before a full house: “He spent a year, year and a half of that in essentially a crowdless environment, and it's harder. It's harder with big crowds. You feel it more. You know where you are. It's a bigger stage. I think that's impressive.”


Other Quotables

Louis Oosthuizen declined to speak after the round but did Tweet this:

🧾 A fun reporter/DeChambeau question and answer:

Q.Did you change any approach to the way you were playing from, let's say, Thursday to today. You seem to be kind of playing more economics than accounting today. It seemed to be more risk mitigation than kind of profit maximization, I would say.

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, absolutely. I tried to do that all week. There was a few times where the driver got me into a few bad places, and then obviously I had a couple of 4-irons get me into bad places yesterday. It's difficult out here. You've got to really manage yourself and make sure you're hitting it right parts of the fairway.

It's one of those things that, as time goes on, I'll keep learning more and more about Open Championship style golf, and one day again hopefully I can hold up the Claret Jug. That would be awesome. One of those things I'll keep learning over the course of time, but definitely was more of an accountant today.

😞 Brooks Koepka on his week: “Definitely a missed opportunity. Didn't play good enough Saturday. Doesn't really matter what I finished today. I didn't have a chance to win. That's disappointing. Would've like to have the one on 18, birdie the par-5, 14 on the back, and, you know, 10 lipped out. But played solid today. Can't complain. Just wish I could have yesterday back.”

😕 Rory McIlroy on his week: “Felt like I was close at Torrey Pines. But it's been one of those sort of I'm the best -- if you want someone to shoot even par for you for a week I'm your man.”


TV Notes

The energy was flat early on and some table-setting elements were hard to come by due to the heavy commercial load. Not having the announcers and a few free-roaming cameras on site hurt, too. But this is all about rhythm and the shows could never get in one.

No producer can overcome the head-spinning mix of showing shots, working in some table-setting discussion or stats for context, dealing with the Jonas Brothers Olympics plugs—and boy doesn’t that look like money well spent—and still get all of the bill-paying spots in without compromised coverage.

Unfortunately the breaks continued up to the very end. The commercial load ultimately cheapens The Open’s stature and since the brand-conscious R&A took less money to be on NBC/Golf Channel after the USGA-Fox debacle, they need to address this going forward.

As the final round proceeded on NBC, the push to sell drama got away from Paul Azinger for saying this may be Louis Oosthuizen’s last best shot at a major. Twitter pounced.

Other stuff:

  • David Feherty had a good weekend. He showed signs of the quick wit deposited away in the cheerleading era where humor is dangerous to job security. Maybe with a links event and no PGA Tour sensors he felt free to loosen the reins?

  • Azinger kept his media obsession alive and well, wasting no time blaming cameras going off for a sound on Spieth’s swing. It sounded more like a cough or sneeze. This should have been been replayed and clarified given Spieth’s place in the championship. But with the well-documented world feed issues, NBC’s signature replay sequences were hard to come by this week.

  • A lot of key shots were missed during “Playing Through” unless you had a magnifying glass. With Spieth having teed off on 17th and Morikawa on the 16th tee, we were playing through for an NBC Sports Network ad. The final moments of the championship and they were hawking NASCAR on a channel that’s going away soon.


Tweets

That’s all for now folks. Hope you enjoyed this one. Back soon with Champions, Cutmakers and (Point) Missers from the 148th,

Geoff

Leave a comment