Golf – The 149th Open Championship – Royal St George’s, Sandwich, Britain – July 18, 2021 South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen hits his approach on the 1st hole during the final round REUTERS/Lee Smith
July 18, 2021
SANDWICH, England (Reuters) -American debutant Collin Morikawa produced an ice-cool final round to win the British Open by two strokes on a blazing hot afternoon at Royal St George’s on Sunday.
The 24-year-old began the day a stroke behind Louis Oosthuizen but played picture-perfect golf in a four-under round of 66 to overhaul the South African and resist resurgent fellow American Jordan Spieth.
Morikawa barely missed a fairway all day as he made four birdies and showed incredible composure late on as Spieth applied pressure down the stretch.
He never looked like cracking though and his fourth sub-par round of the week saw him finish on 15-under 265 — his remarkable consistency born out by the astonishing statistic of only four bogeys all week.
Spieth, who was bidding to win his fourth major and first since the 2017 Open, started his final round badly with two bogeys in his first six holes but an eagle at the seventh launched a gallant chase of Morikawa.
The packed galleries, enjoying a memorable finale after last year’s tournament was cancelled because of the pandemic, roared on Spieth but despite a return to his best form he was unable to catch Morikawa, finishing 13 under.
Oosthuizen ended in a tie for third with Spain’s U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm, four shots back. Oosthuizen had led from round one and posted the lowest-ever Open total for the first 36 holes but wilted in the heat and finished with a one-over 71.
Morikawa had the luxury of a two-shot lead as he teed off from the 18th tee before striding down the fairway and two-putting for a victory that never looked in doubt as he became the first player to win two majors on debut, having also claimed the PGA Championship last year.
“This is by far one of the best moments of my life. Look at all these fans, let’s hear it for you guys,” Morikawa said after receiving the Claret Jug.
“To see some of the best crowds I have ever seen I’m looking forward to making my trip every year to the British Open.”
The last debutant to win the Open was American Ben Curtis in 2003, although whereas Curtis was ranked 396th at the time, Morikawa is the world number four.
He only turned pro in 2019 but the University of California graduate has now won two of his first eight majors and looks destined to become a major force in the game.
“Everything about this week was special,” he said. “I’ve had belief in myself since day one that I turned professional.
“I do my homework Monday to Wednesday to make sure I know what I need to do.”
(Reporting by Ed Osmond, editing by Christian Radnedge, Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis)