Collin Morikawa, 24, captured his second major championship on Sunday at the 149th Open, becoming the first men’s golfer in history to win his debut at two separate major events. He also became just the eighth golfer ever to win two majors before the age of 25. The phenom finished 15 under for the tournament, besting second-place finisher Jordan Spieth (-13) and third-place finishers Jon Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen (-11).
Morikawa ended up atop of a star-studded leaderboard in come-from-behind fashion as he parlayed a one-stroke deficit at the 54-hole turn into a two-stroke win, touching off his week with a bogey-free 4-under 66 in Round 4. Spieth and Rahm matched him with 66s in a wild final round that left us with a tremendous finish.
“This is by far one of the best moments of my life,” said Morikawa after the round. “… It gives me chills.”
Paired with 2010 Open Championship winner and 54-hole leader Louis Oosthuizen, who won the same championship 11 years ago to the day Sunday, Morikawa and Oosty exchanged pars in the first three holes of the final round from Royal St. George’s. But as Oosthuizen — who led after every round this week — faded with bogeys at Nos. 4 and No. 7, Morikawa surged and took the lead by sinking birdies on Nos. 7, 8 and 9. He went out in 32 and came in at 34, finishing his week with 31 consecutive bogey-free holes to earn the Claret Jug.
“It was 100%,” he said of his focus on his final 18 holes. “Execution was a little iffy, but I knew there was going to be troubles. … Yeah, my putting stats may not be up there, but they came in when I needed them, and I’m so happy.”
Spieth, a three-time major champion and the 2017 Open Champion, made his own run on Sunday to push Morikawa down the stretch in Round 4. After overcoming bogeys on Nos. 4 and 6, Spieth eagled the seventh and birdied Nos. 9, 10, 13 and 14 to get within one of Morikawa’s lead on the back. Yet Morikawa, playing one hole behind him, had an answer at every turn with a clutch birdie on the par-4 14th and a pair of par saves on 15 and 16 as he brought it home in steady fashion.
Morikawa, who won the 2020 PGA Championship, joins Tiger Woods as the second golfer to win The Open and the PGA Championship before age 25. And only three golfers in the history of the sport — Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones and now Morikawa — have won multiple majors in eight or fewer starts at such events.
“I had to tell myself midway through the round, when I started making birdies, ‘Just to focus on each shot,'” said Morikawa about his Tiger-like poise. “… Just make sure I’m committed over every shot. That was the goal of every day so far, and I had to stick to it. I put myself in a good position with nine holes left, but there were still nine holes, and I still had to hit shot after shot to try and pull it off.”
Oosthuizen, after leading all week, wound up with his third consecutive top-three finish at a major after second-place efforts at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open. Rahm, who won the U.S. Open last month at Torrey Pines, birdied four of his last six holes but was unable to battle back from a rough start at Royal St. George’s, while Spieth registered his second top-three finish in a major this year.
The Open Championship was the only of golf’s four majors to have been canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic and is the last major on the PGA Tour schedule until next April, making the title of Champion Golfer of the Year for Morikawa all the more sweet. He takes the mantle carried by reigning champion and 2019 winner, Shane Lowry, who finished at 6 under on the week and T12, tying for his second-best finish at the event.
While there’s a nine-month break between majors for Morikawa, he is one of a few Americans who will be playing later this month at another important tournament: the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.