Collin Morikawa, 24, captured his second major championship on Sunday at the 149th Open, becoming the first men's golfer in history to win his debut at two separate major events. He also became just the eighth golfer ever to win two majors before the age of 25. The phenom finished 15 under for the tournament, besting second-place finisher Jordan Spieth (-13) and third-place finishers Jon Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen (-11).
Morikawa ended up atop of a star-studded leaderboard in come-from-behind fashion as he parlayed a one-stroke deficit at the 54-hole turn into a two-stroke win, touching off his week with a bogey-free 4-under 66 in Round 4. Spieth and Rahm matched him with 66s in a wild final round that left us with a tremendous finish.
"This is by far one of the best moments of my life," said Morikawa after the round. "... It gives me chills."
Paired with 2010 Open Championship winner and 54-hole leader Louis Oosthuizen, who won the same championship 11 years ago to the day Sunday, Morikawa and Oosty exchanged pars in the first three holes of the final round from Royal St. George's. But as Oosthuizen -- who led after every round this week -- faded with bogeys at Nos. 4 and No. 7, Morikawa surged and took the lead by sinking birdies on Nos. 7, 8 and 9. He went out in 32 and came in at 34, finishing his week with 31 consecutive bogey-free holes to earn the Claret Jug.
"It was 100%," he said of his focus on his final 18 holes. "Execution was a little iffy, but I knew there was going to be troubles. … Yeah, my putting stats may not be up there, but they came in when I needed them, and I'm so happy."
Spieth, a three-time major champion and the 2017 Open Champion, made his own run on Sunday to push Morikawa down the stretch in Round 4. After overcoming bogeys on Nos. 4 and 6, Spieth eagled the seventh and birdied Nos. 9, 10, 13 and 14 to get within one of Morikawa's lead on the back. Yet Morikawa, playing one hole behind him, had an answer at every turn with a clutch birdie on the par-4 14th and a pair of par saves on 15 and 16 as he brought it home in steady fashion.
Morikawa, who won the 2020 PGA Championship, joins Tiger Woods as the second golfer to win The Open and the PGA Championship before age 25. And only three golfers in the history of the sport -- Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones and now Morikawa -- have won multiple majors in eight or fewer starts at such events.
"I had to tell myself midway through the round, when I started making birdies, 'Just to focus on each shot,'" said Morikawa about his Tiger-like poise. "… Just make sure I'm committed over every shot. That was the goal of every day so far, and I had to stick to it. I put myself in a good position with nine holes left, but there were still nine holes, and I still had to hit shot after shot to try and pull it off."
Oosthuizen, after leading all week, wound up with his third consecutive top-three finish at a major after second-place efforts at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open. Rahm, who won the U.S. Open last month at Torrey Pines, birdied four of his last six holes but was unable to battle back from a rough start at Royal St. George's, while Spieth registered his second top-three finish in a major this year.
The Open Championship was the only of golf's four majors to have been canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic and is the last major on the PGA Tour schedule until next April, making the title of Champion Golfer of the Year for Morikawa all the more sweet. He takes the mantle carried by reigning champion and 2019 winner, Shane Lowry, who finished at 6 under on the week and T12, tying for his second-best finish at the event.
While there's a nine-month break between majors for Morikawa, he is one of a few Americans who will be playing later this month at another important tournament: the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Rick Gehman is joined by Kyle Porter, Mark Immelman and Greg DuCharme to break down and react to Collin Morikawa's victory at the 2021 Open Championship. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Here is a recap of the final leaderboard from The Open.
1. Collin Morikawa (-15): Two major victories in eight career outings and five wins on tour in 49 starts puts Morikawa in golf's elite company at his age. He was sublime this week in Sandwich. One of the best iron players in the world, he paired that success with a hot putter -- and clutch putting late on Sunday -- to take home the Claret Jug.
2. Jordan Spieth (-13): While he came up a few strokes shy of a second Open Championship, Spieth's runner-up score of 267 ties for the lowest score to par ever for a non-winner at the event. It's his third top-five finish at The Open and fourth top-10 finish. He had to be nearly perfect Sunday to overcome a three-stroke 54-hole deficit and nearly was before missing on a few scoring opportunities in the final few holes.
T3. Jon Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen (-11): Rahm birdied four of his final six holes to close his final round with a 4-under 66. He burned a lot of edges earlier in the round and his aggression after trailing by five entering Sunday was rewarded late. Oosthuizen's story is one of heartbreak as he failed to go wire-to-wire with a win and finished T3 or better in a third consecutive major championship.
5. Dylan Frittelli (-9): A fifth-place finish for Frittelli highlights his meteoric rise on the PGA Tour. He finished T5 at the Masters last fall, T46 at the U.S. Open last month and fifth this week at The Open, all career best finishes for the 31-year-old South African.
T6. Brooks Koepka and Mackenzie Hughes (-8): Despite making par on his final six holes and failing to convert at the par-5 14th, Koepka turned in a final-round 65 that tied for the low round of the day, his best score to par of the week and first bogey-free round at Royal St. George's. Hughes, making his debut at The Open, tied for his worst round of the week with a 1-under 69.
T8. Dustin Johnson and three others (-7): A 3-over 73 in Round 3 knocked Johnson, the World No. 1, out of Sunday contention. But he might not have gotten the memo as he rose to as high as fifth on the leaderboard in Round 4 and was 3 under through 14 holes.