'He's An Awesome Guy' - Morikawa On History Lesson From Sandy Lyle

The two-time Major winner learned something new from a legend of the game while on a practice round

Collin Morikawa during a practice round ahead of the 2022 Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Players are making final preparations for the first round of The Masters at Augusta National, but there was still time for Collin Morikawa to learn something about another Major from Scottish legend Sandy Lyle.

Morikawa had been playing a practice round at Augusta National when he teamed up with the 1988 Masters winner, but, as he explained following the round, the pair soon struck up a conversation about The Open: “He told me about how he won the Open at Royal St Georges. There's this Open Championship belt that I had no clue was a thing that apparently they give out to a couple champions here and there, and he said it would be a special one to win next year or this year. It's just small talk. I've never met him. He's an awesome guy. I asked him how many Masters he's played in, and it's quite a few.”

Lyle will compete in his 41st Masters this year, but the Scot confirmed that the main focus of his conversation with Morikawa had been the 150th Open, taking place at St Andrews in July. He said: “I talked to him about the Open Championship at St Andrews coming up because he’s obviously an Open winner. I said this year is a very special year. He kind of goes: 'Why? It’s just another Open'. I said it’s the 150th anniversary of the belt. So it was a little bit of a history lesson I gave to him because the belt used to be played as The Open Championship. Tom Morris Jr. won it three years in a row, so back in 1860-something, they gave him the belt, and then they had nothing to play for in 1871. Hence why we play for the Claret Jug now. 

Lyle went on to explain that, armed with knowledge of the belt's existence, if Morikawa does win the Open this year, he can avoid the same kind of unfortunate incident that happened to him after he won the tournament in 1985: "I said, if anybody comes up to you panicking, saying we need to present you with a British Open Belt after you’ve had the Claret Jug, at least you know what it’s all about because I got caught that way as well. 'These people from Prestwick Golf Club want to give you a belt'. 'Can’t you see I’m busy?' So that was a little history lesson, so he enjoyed that.”

As the pair’s round progressed, talk eventually turned to matters at hand – namely, the course changes at Augusta National this year. Morikawa added: “We had a lot of talk about just how different the course has changed, about when he first started playing to what we have now and the past five or ten years. There's little changes that you can't realise and don't notice, but he's someone that's been here and knows every part of this golf course.”

This year, Morikawa competes in his third Masters – a tournament he has yet to bring his best game to. He finished tied for 44th in 2020, before improving on that with a tie for 18th last year. However, with two Major wins to his name already, including last year’s Open, there is plenty of confidence that this could be his year. Beyond that, he will no doubt begin focusing on Majors to come, including the chance to defend his Open title and claim the famous belt he learned about from Lyle.

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Mike Hall
Mike Hall

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.