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The 150th Open

Collin Morikawa


Reigning Champion says defending trophy would surpass maiden triumph

Collin Morikawa and Martin Slumbers

Reigning Champion Golfer of the Year Collin Morikawa believes defending his title at The 150th Open at St Andrews would even surpass his triumph at Royal St George’s.

The American made history in Sandwich last year by winning the Championship on his debut, having also claimed the 2020 PGA Championship on his first appearance as well.

Morikawa produced a bogey-free final round of 66 to set a record 15-under aggregate total of 265 as he overhauled long-time leader Louis Oosthuizen and held off Jordan Spieth.

But having reluctantly handed back the Claret Jug on Monday morning, Morikawa is already relishing the challenge of winning it back at the home of golf - a venue he is experiencing for the first time.

“It sucked. It really did,” he said when asked how it felt to relinquish the trophy. “I woke up this morning and looked at it. The replica is beautiful, but it's not the same. It really isn't.

“It will never be. But I don't want to dwell on the past. I think I've talked about that early on in my career. I always look forward to what's next. Maybe hopefully just giving it back kind of frees me up and allows me just to focus on winning this week.”

He continued: “That’s obviously the goal [to get his hands on the trophy again]. Now that I know what it's like to have the Claret Jug for a year, there's nothing like it.

“It's a really special year. Even though you won that tournament a year ago, it's going to be in your history for the rest of your life. And it's pretty cool but I think trying to defend this week at The 150th at St Andrews would be even more special.”

The 25-year-old admitted he has already been seduced by St Andrews’ charm having had his first look at the famous links, although he is reluctant to get too caught up in the past. 

“I love it. I can see why guys love it. I can see how special this week can be. I can see how the course can play a million different ways, depending on the weather,” he said.

“We're at The 150th Open at St Andrews, all the past champions, all the history, everything to get to this point Everything has led to this. That's true of everything, but especially for this moment. 

“For a lot of guys who haven't been here like myself, to come here, look out the hotel, walk down 17, 18 on Sunday when you have the public just walking, that's the coolest experience as a fan, as a golfer, anyone could ask for because it's a game for everyone.

“I think that's what we're trying to do. Yeah, the stretch of just teeing off on 1, just seeing 17, just seeing 18, you feel the history, and you feel the importance of everything that has come before us at this golf course and golf in general. It's really cool to be here.

“You've got to embrace the history. You have to embrace everything. Everything that has happened before us. But I'm here to win a tournament. I'm here to play some really good golf. 

“Even though my week is filled with the couple extra media obligations and a couple other appearances doesn't mean by Thursday morning I'll not be ready. 

“I'm going to do everything I can, just like any other event I've played well in or won, to be waking up Thursday morning ready to play 72 holes of really good golf.”

Collin Morikawa signs an autograph for a spectator during his practice round at St Andrews

Morikawa was also experiencing Royal St George’s for the first time before winning on his Open debut last year and said he usually only needs a couple of rounds to get a grasp of a course.

But the 2021 Champion Golfer revealed he is currently stumped by the par-4 12th, adding that the special mystique of the Old Course has already lived up to its billing.

“I'm still trying to figure out hole 12. I have no idea what to do. I don't know what I'm going to do. I could tell you 15 different ways to play it, and all could be wrong,” he said.

“I kind of want to sit on 12 and watch guys play and see what they do. I think what surprised me the most was a lot of golf courses don't - they don't give me that awe factor too often. 

“I appreciate them. I love them. I think they're great golf courses, but there's only been a few golf courses where I've stepped foot and been like this is a special place. 

“Not just the golf course, but the atmosphere, the clubhouse, everything around it. This is one of those places. There's only been a few times where it's happened like that in, I think, forever, and I understand why people say this is a very special place.”