New Champion Golfer of the Year Collin Morikawa hailed the crowds at Royal St George’s for inspiring his triumphant Open debut as he reflected on ‘one of the best moments of my life’.
The 24-year-old became the 10th man to lift the Claret Jug on his maiden appearance at golf’s oldest major after a composed round of 66 on Championship Sunday saw him finish on 15-under for the week.
Part of the final pairing, Morikawa overhauled overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen on the 7th before holding off the back nine challenge of Jordan Spieth to land his second major in just eight appearances.
Upon receiving the prestigious trophy in front of a packed grandstand on the 18th green, Morikawa said: "This is by far one of the best moments of my life.
“To see everyone out here, look at all these fans. You guys have been amazing.
“I’m obviously very biased, being from the US, but to see some of the best crowds I have ever seen out here, I’ll look forward to making my trip every year to The Open to see you guys cheering us on.
"I wouldn't be here without my family, my friends, my brother, my girlfriend. They weren't able to make the trip, normally they make the trip to majors, but I know they have been waking up early to watch me play.
“I can feel the love and I hope I get to see them all really soon.”
Morikawa’s success provided a perfect present for his caddy, Jonathan Jakovac, who turned 39 on Sunday and was suitably serenaded by the Sandwich support.
And the American hailed all those who made The 149th Open possible after an absence of two years.
"We are all so honoured to be here on this beautiful golf course,” he said. “Royal St George's have put on a great major Championship.
"To be called Champion Golfer of the Year means so much. Thank you to every single one of you out here and every single one of you watching. Let's keep this going."