This time last year Collin Morikawa had played in just one major in his career. He now has two major titles.
Morikawa was surgical on Sunday at Royal St. George’s, taking the venerable links apart piece by piece, and for that precision Morikawa is the winner of the 149th Open Championship.
Beginning his day one back of 54-hole leader Louis Oosthuizen, Morikawa traversed Royal St. George’s treacherous opening five holes in even par then made his move, racking up three straight birdies to end his first nine thanks to a lights-out iron display. The few times Morikawa was off with his second shots, his short game—usually the weakest weapon in his arsenal—kept him afloat, making sensible outs from the rough and converting a number of clutch par saves. A 15-footer birdie putt over a ridge at the par-5 14th essentially sealed the claret jug for the 24-year-old superstar.
Jordan Spieth, whose Saturday stumble on the back nine bestowed a three-shot deficit entering the day, dug himself into a deeper hole at the onset of Sunday, playing the first six holes two over to seemingly take himself out of the proceedings. But Spieth answered, and answered with vigor, with an eagle at the par-3 seventh, and followed with four birdies in a six-hole stretch starting at the ninth.
Alas, Spieth’s birdie tries down the closing stretch failed to materialize, and with Morikawa failing to surrender an inch, Spieth’s effort—a four-under 66—ultimately came two shots short.
Oosthuizen, who entered off consecutive runner-ups at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open, made a bogey at the fourth and proceeded to make a mess of the par-5 seventh. His second shot was short into the right greenside bunker, and Oosthuizen proceeded to airmail his third across the green against the backlip of another bunker. He managed to chop his fourth onto the green and made a nice two-putt from there, but a bogey proved to be a two-shot swing with Morikawa. He made the turn in two over compared to Morikawa’s three-under front, and a near ace at the par-3 11th was wiped out by a bogey at the par-4 13th, resulting in another near major miss for the 2010 Open champ.