American Collin Morikawa has won the Open Championship’s Claret Jug for the first time after a phenomenal final-round display saw him edge out countryman Jordan Spieth and overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen.
Last year’s PGA Championship winner showed incredible nerve to hold off Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey in August, and he showed the same qualities here, landing three birdies in a row to put himself in contention on the front nine before putting his way to victory on the back nine. For a man of just 24, he has repeatedly shown he has both the bottle and the talent to win these big tournaments, and although the early comparisons to a certain Tiger Woods may be a little premature, he looks likely to have a big impact on the sport over the next decade.
It was a day of disappointment for Oosthuizen, who came into the day with a one-shot lead but had his worst round of the competition as he fell away. Hole seven will haunt him for the rest of his life as he landed in the bunker when approaching the green, and then as he tried to escape bunker one his chip landed in bunker two. He managed a bogey, but from then on it was almost certain his 11-year wait for a major would continue.
Spieth produced four birdies in six holes late on and it did seem at one point as if he was destined to win this competition for the second time, but when it really mattered he was unable to land key putts, whereas Morikawa kept sinking them. Spieth finished on 13-under with a final-round score of 66, one of the best of the afternoon, but will look back with disappointment on his Saturday performance in which he missed two good opportunities for birdies.
After a poor first nine, pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm sunk four birdies in a row on the back nine to launch himself up the field to finish level with Oosthuizen on 11-under. The Spaniard can produce the golf he showed on the back nine, but his round-one score of one-over potentially cost him victory here.
The contenders came close, but ultimately Morikawa was unflappable throughout, despite the pressure Spieth in particular applied. As he approached the 18th green, the engraver had already begun work on the trophy as the American took a two-shot lead into the final hole.
Having finished T8 at the PGA Championship and T4 at the US Open already this year, this win was not unexpected but instead the continuation of an improving golfer who could go on to dominate the sport. Tiger Woods won his first British Open back in 2000, going on to win three in total, and there is no reason to suggest that Morikawa cannot equal that total, with time on his side.
Despite four days of brilliant golf from the American, which saw some excellent approach play and nerveless putting, it was perhaps his persona that will put him on the right track for future success. He was so calm when it came to the crunch, and his shots were a reflection of his personality.
A total of 33,000 British fans gathered to watch this remarkable young man make par on the final hole, and in doing so he won his very first Claret Jug, and the second major in his career. With this consistent level of performance, that total of two will not remain the same for very long.