Spirit of the Game: Morikawa’s Historic Win at The Open Championship

July 19, 2021

By Ben Everill, PGA Tour

Tiger’s killer irons and instinct. Phil’s courage, smile and warmth.

Fellow Californian Collin Morikawa invoked thoughts of the two most successful Golden State-bred golfers who came before him as he became the first player to win two different majors in his debut at The 149th Open.

One is reluctant to tie the 24-year-old’s achievements to these legends, such is their enormity, but it is impossible not to watch the now five-time PGA TOUR winner and be amazed. False dawns for new prodigies have come and gone but in Morikawa we seem blessed with a stayer.

“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 says. “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.”

Let’s just take it all in, shall we?

With his win at Royal St. George’s, Morikawa is the first player in the history of the game to win two different majors on their first attempt. His name stands alone. No Woods, Mickelson, Nicklaus, Hogan, Player or Palmer.

Granted a pandemic of epic proportions made the achievement more accessible but it still should not be discounted. And it is just the first of a myriad of accolades.

• It is a second major win in just eight major starts.

• He joined Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth as the only players in the last 100 years with multiple major wins before age 25.

• He joined Woods as the only players to win The Open and PGA Championship before age 25.

• He became the seventh player since 1900 to win The Open on debut and first since Ben Curtis in 2003, also at Royal St. George’s. Jock Hutchison (1921), Denny Shute (1933), Ben Hogan (1953), Tony Lema (1964) and Tom Watson (1975) are the others.

• He became the sixth winner of The Open to record four rounds in the 60s joining Greg Norman (1993), Nick Price (1994), Woods (2000), Henrik Stenson (2016) and Spieth (2017).

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

• Become the third player to win multiple majors with final rounds of 66 or better joining Nicklaus and Johnny Miller.

• His 265 total was one stroke shy of 72-hole tournament scoring record.