The 24-year-old fired a final-round 66 to win The 149th Open Championship and make history as the first player to win two different majors on his debut appearance
Marvellous Morikawa Makes History By Winning The 149th Open
Under blue skies and in front of 32,000 spectators at an immaculate Royal St George’s, the 24-year-old hoisted aloft the Claret Jug after adding a bogey-free 66 to rounds of 67, 64 and 68 for a 265 total.
It’s been two years since golf’s oldest championship has been staged and it was worth the wait as Morikawa overcame three of the game’s best to join Bobby Jones as the only other player to win two of golf’s four marquee events in eight or fewer starts.
“Good evening, everyone,” Morikawa said to the galleries, before paying tribute to the “amazing” fans in attendance across the four days.
“This is by far one of the best moments of my life. To see everyone out here, look at all these fans, let’s hear it for you guys.
“You guys have been amazing. I’m obviously biased being from the US but to see some of the best crowds I’ve ever seen.
“I look forward to making my trip every year to the British Open and see you guys cheer us on.”
Trailing Louis Oosthuizen by one at the start of the day, the South African’s 4th-hole bogey meant it was honours even as the final group stood on the 7th tee, before Morikawa made a decisive move.
A birdie to Oosthuizen’s bogey on the par-5 opened up a two-shot advantage but there were no thoughts of consolidation. Further gains on the 8th and 9th took the 2020 PGA champion out in 32 and gave him a four-stroke cushion with nine holes to play.
Long heralded for his immense approach play, it was on the greens this Sunday where the damage was done, as the American’s weakness-turned-strength separated him from the rest.
Even when it looked like his lead was in jeopardy, Morikawa defied his reputation as a sub-standard putter by answering every question that arose on the Royal St George’s surfaces.
Clutch par saves on 10 and 15 flanked a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14th that consolidated his two-shot cushion to a charging Spieth in the game ahead.
With Spieth in the clubhouse at 13-under and the challenge of Oosthuizen diminished, Morikawa could afford a bogey on the 72nd hole to head back stateside as the Champion Golfer of the Year.
Another fairway-green combination meant the man from Las Vegas could savour the greatest walk in golf, before closing out the title with the the simplest of pars.
And as well as everything else, Morikawa is now the second player to win the PGA Championship and The Open before turning 25. The other? Tiger Woods.
“It’s amazing. I tell everyone I’m not the biggest history guy but I want to add myself into history and make memories for myself.
“Holding the Claret Jug is one of the best memories I’m going to have in my lifetime. This was the best experience, the most amazing fans, everything about this entire week was just very special and to cap it off on my caddie’s birthday it’s even more special.”
Behind Morikawa, Spieth recovered from a slow start to put himself right in the mix coming down the stretch. Four pars and two bogies in his opening six holes wasn’t what the Texan had in mind but he kickstarted his charge with an eagle on the 7th and a birdie on the 9th.
Three back-nine birdies vaulted the 2017 Open winner into contention but he was always playing catch-up to his fellow American, who refused to give his opponents any encouragement.
Two shots further back in a tie for third finished Jon Rahm and overnight leader Oosthuizen, who will be left ruing another major near miss.