Collin Morikawa cannot wait to embrace everything St Andrews has to offer when he defends the Claret Jug in front of record-breaking crowds at The 150th Open.
Morikawa made history with a stunning debut victory at Royal St George’s last year, as he followed up his win in the 2020 PGA Championship by becoming the first man to win on his first appearance at two different Majors.
Speaking to the media on the day it was announced that 290,000 fans will be present at the Old Course this July, Morikawa expressed excitement ahead of his first trip to the Home of Golf.
“I've never been to a golf course or a golf club like that, where I think really just the entire town is encompassed around (the Old Course at) St Andrews,” said Morikawa.
“The love for the game, the love for the sport, I think it kind of breathes and lives through the town. I've never been in a place like that, and what I think I'm going to look forward to experiencing is just being a part of that town, being there for The Open when everything is about The Open.
“Places we go and play normally, they're kind of -- golf is the highlight of that week, but there's also other things going on in some cities that we go to.
“I really look forward to going there in St Andrews and just really embracing and enjoying everything that it has to give for me.”
The total attendance of 290,000 for The 150th Open will significantly exceed the previous record of 239,000, which was set at St Andrews in 2000.
“I think when I have more people around, it almost makes me focus a little bit more on what I'm doing rather than almost enjoying the scenery around,” added Morikawa.
“When you have little gaps in the fans and you kind of get a little distracted, you pay attention to other things rather than actually focusing on golf. So when there's more people, for me, I enjoy it even more, so I look forward to seeing all those people out there.
“You know, the fans make everything. We go back a couple years ago when COVID had come by, it was kind of getting a little bland and it was getting a little boring in the sense of just -- we love what we do, we love playing golf, but the energy the fans bring out, it kind of brings out the best of us and it brings out the best competitors in ourselves.
“When I was out there last year at The Open, seeing the fans, seeing how much they truly love the game and have the passion for the game, those are the people you want to play in front of.
“It really does bring out the best in us. To have the most respectful fans, to have some of the fans that I think truly understand the game more than other fans around the world makes things even better to just get a couple claps when you hit it to maybe 30 feet rather than wanting to hit it to three feet sometimes.”
Although he has no previous experience of St Andrews, Morikawa does not intend to visit the Old Course prior to the week of The 150th Open.
Instead, the reigning Champion Golfer of the Year will stick to the process that proved so successful at Royal St George’s.
“People ask me if I'm going to go over there early or take a couple trips. I really have never done that for any majors,” said Morikawa, who will feature in the Genesis Scottish Open the week before The Open.
“When it comes to St Andrews, obviously there's the history, there's everything that St Andrews represents, right, the Home of Golf and everything about that. But for me at the end of the day I need to go out there Monday through Wednesday and do my normal prep on how I'm going to picture out St Andrews. I can't play it like people have played it in the past.
“I don't really go out and ask too many people. That's kind of just my thing. I go out there and try and figure it out myself. I think if I listen to too many people, I start going away from playing my game.
“And that's what I've done at other courses, where I've kind of listened to people and it hasn't really turned out the way I wanted.
“I'll just go out and do what I do best. I think my caddie, my coach, everyone that I've kind of put together, this small team, we do a good job figuring out what we need to do Monday through Wednesday to be as prepared by Thursday.”