The Open 2021: Champion Collin Morikawa says Scottish Open preparation was 'huge'
The American achieved the remarkable feat as he claimed a two-shot victory on his debut in the 149th Open at Royal St George’s, having already landed the US PGA Championship last year in a similar position.
“I'm 24 years old, it's hard to grasp,” said Morikawa, gazing adoringly at the Claret Jug, of his achievement, having only turned professional two years ago,
The victory on the Kent coast came a week after Morikawa, who has climbed to world No 3 after a success worth just over $2 million, had made his debut in the abrdn Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian.
“Last week at the Scottish Open was a huge week, a great learning experience for me – and it all paid off this week,” admitted the new Champion Golfer of the Year.
“The Scottish Open last week at Renaissance was different from Royal St George's this week, but it still had that same turf, same fescue fairways.
“Learning a links-style golf course is tough because there's so many slopes, and I like to know everything. I like to know every little detail possible, but it's hard to do that out here.
“So you have to be precise about everything, and that's how I looked at it as a challenge, and I look forward to it.”
Morikawa opened with rounds of 70 and 67 in Scottish Open before having to settle for closing efforts of 71 and 73 to finish joint-71st - his worst effort as a professional over four rounds.
He was five-over after six holes in the final round on Scotland’s Golf Coast before finishing with a flourish with four birdies in the last five holes.
He still ended up 15 shots behind the winner, Australian Min Woo Lee, but the outing allowed him to make some big equipment decisions for this assignment as he changed three of his irons.
“I finished with three straight birdies in the Scottish Open to build some momentum, but I was just rolling the dice hoping these irons would work,” he admitted.
In an event that saw more than 150,000 fans out on the Sandwich course, Morikawa showed that he can produce the goods in front of spectators as well as without, as was the case for the US PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I had nothing to prove to myself today,” he insisted before adding with a smile: “But I hope the thing is off the table that I can play with fans and I can play well on a Sunday.”
Bob MacIntyre finished as the leading British player after weekend rounds of 65-67 to claim a share of eighth spot - his second successive top 10 in the event.
The effort lifted MacIntyre five spots to 48th in the world rankings and was also worth around £185,000.