Collin Morikawa admits he will have to reassess his goals after making history with a nerveless victory in the 149th Open on his championship debut.
Morikawa, who won the 2020 US PGA on just his second major start, carded a superb closing 66 at a sun-baked Royal St George’s to become the first player to win two different majors at their first attempt.
The 24-year-old’s winning total of 15 under par left him two shots clear of three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, with US Open champion Jon Rahm and 54-hole leader Louis Oosthuizen two strokes further back.
Oosthuizen has finished second, second and third in the last three majors, while Spieth admitted he wanted to break something in his rental house following “dumb mistakes” in the third round, most notably the missed par putt from two feet on the 18th which cost him a place in the final group on Sunday.
There were no such mistakes for Morikawa to reflect on after he followed his bogey-free final round at Harding Park last August with another at Royal St George’s, with brilliant par saves on the 10th and 15th proving vital.
Now ranked a career-high third in the world, Morikawa joins the elite group of Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Spieth in winning multiple majors before the age of 25.
“I really need to sit down and talk to my coach on how to reassess the entire year,” Morikawa said.
“I’m not going to throw everything into the trash and just say, ‘OK, we’re a completely different person’, but goals have to change. I didn’t do that last year and I think that’s why that first week back (after the US PGA) everything was kind of tail ending.
“I don’t want to do that this year. I want to finish on a strong note in the season, and I’m going to sit down, when things slow down hopefully, and try and embrace that and figure out what’s next.
“But to be cemented on the Claret Jug with countless names, countless Hall of Famers, countless people that I’ve looked up to, it’s so special.
“We only get four majors a year and every single one of them is very special. To finally get to play an Open Championship for the first time and win it, it’s going to be that much more special.
“I won the PGA and then coming back as the defending champ you just have a sense you belong, this is going to be part of you for the rest of your life. The Open Championship is going to be part of my life the rest of my life no matter what happens.
“To be a part of that history, it’s awesome. To hear Champion Golfer of the Year, (gives me) chills.”
Morikawa’s Open prospects had not looked so bright when he played on a links course for the first time the week before and could only finish 71st in the Scottish Open, but that experience at the Renaissance Club proved invaluable.
As well as switching three of his irons to cope with the different turf, Morikawa also changed to a conventional grip for long putts on the slower greens and turned one of the weakest parts of his game into a strength in Sandwich.
“I felt like it was as solid as it’s going to get, especially in a major,” Morikawa said of his putting. “In a major, on a Sunday in contention, I wasn’t thinking about anything other than making a putt.
“I’m probably going to tell myself tomorrow why can’t I keep doing that all the time? But I’m going to try to figure out what worked and use that for the future because I know I can putt well in these pressure situations. I’ve just got to keep doing that.
“Everything about my stats say I’m not a good putter. I feel like I can get a lot better. But in these situations I feel like everything is thrown off the table. Forget about all your stats, it’s who can perform well in these situations.
“That’s why I think over the past few majors you’ve seen a lot of the same names up there, because they believe in their game and they’re able to bring it out in these big moments. Thankfully I was able to put it out there on Sunday and close it out.”