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Collin Morikawa: The Open champion is ‘on course for greatness’

Californian became the only golfer to win two majors on a debut attempt

“Collin Morikawa is the first-timer who simply loves firsts, the virgin soldier who thinks nothing of being the last man standing on the battlefield,” said James Corrigan in The Daily Telegraph. When the 24-year-old American won The Open at Royal St George’s on Sunday, with a nerveless, bogey-less 66 in the final round, he became the only golfer to win two majors on a debut attempt, having already collected the US PGA last year. He was “unbreakable, unmatchable and unbelievable”. 

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen had led the tournament since Friday – but when Morikawa overtook him with a birdie at the seventh, “he was doomed never to recover”. Instead the contest on the back nine was with Morikawa’s countryman Jordan Spieth, who “burst back into the reckoning” after a recent slump in form. The two will surely have more showdowns, but this one was “a veritable cracker”. 

There were “shudders of uncertainty” for Morikawa on the tenth green, said Tom Kershaw in The Independent, when his approach shot “sailed over the back of the green and buried itself into a deep tuft of rough that invited whispers of disaster”. But the moment his par-putt reached the hole, “it became clear that Morikawa’s stranglehold on the Claret Jug would never slip”. When Spieth moved within a single shot, having birdied the 14th, Morikawa holed an 18-foot putt on the same green.  

The Californian’s steadiness on the final day was “close to serenity”, said Alasdair Reid in The Times. There is “something very Tigerish” about the young man from Los Angeles, who has taken only eight majors to complete half of a career Grand Slam. He turned professional two years ago, and this was only his second outing on a links course. Morikawa has had “a remarkably smooth rise to the top”.  

“One can only wonder what Morikawa’s record might have looked like had he not appreciated the value of education,” said Ewan Murray in The Guardian. In 2016, he nearly turned pro after playing as an amateur at his first professional event; but he postponed it for four years to finish his business degree at the University of California, Berkeley. Some have claimed that his US PGA victory was helped by the lack of crowds, but no one could question his calmness in front of 32,000 spectators at Sandwich, where “he discovered a formidable putting touch”. There was also, he declared, a more unorthodox secret to his success: “I never do this but I had a burger for four straight days,” he said. Given “this illustrious CV” at the age of 24, Morikawa seems “on course for greatness”.

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