Collin Morikawa became the first man in golf history to win two major titles on his respective debut appearances at them after a closing four under 66 saw him claim the 149th Open Championship in resounding style at a sun-kissed Royal St George's in Kent on Sunday.
2017 champion Jordan Spieth produced his own round of 66 to close to within one shot of his fellow American with four holes left, but a fourth Morikawa birdie on the 14th hole eased any tension as he enjoyed pars over the final four holes to run out a comfortable winner on 15 under, two strokes ahead of Spieth.
- ‘The Olympics are a total no-brainer for me’ - Team GB golfer Casey
- Beaming Fleetwood channelling inspiration from Rose after 'surreal' Team GB selection
Nordqvist keeps cool to claim women's British Open title at Carnoustie
Overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen finished with a disappointing 71 to drop back to 11 under after fatal bogeys on the fourth, seventh and 13th holes. The 2010 champion shared third place with US Open holder Jon Rahm, who carded a 66 with four birdies in the closing six holes.
24-year-old Morikawa resembled Tiger Woods in his pomp with his iron play and distance the key to the victory after his 2020 success at the US PGA Championship in San Francisco. He joins Woods as the only men to win the Open and US PGA before the age of 25.
"This is by far one of the best moments of my life," said the new world number three after making key birdies on the seventh, eighth and ninth holes to wipe out Oosthuizen's one-shot overnight advantage.
Look at all these fans, let's hear it for you guys. You guys have been amazing. To see some of the best crowds I have ever seen In look forward to making my trip every year.
The US PGA Championship was played without fans due to the global pandemic last August, but a crowd of 32,000 revelled in the Las Vegas man's maturity of shot selection as the field failed to apply the necessary pressure to the winner in the glorious Sandwich sunshine.
Morikawa is the first man to win the Open on his debut since Ben Curtis claimed the title at Sandwich in 2003 and was a fitting winner on a course made for a strategist rather than a heavyweight hitter at an event cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
For a player who only turned professional in 2019, it was a spectacular performance that is unlikely to be bettered when the history books evaluate Morikawa's momentous triumph in years to come after claiming two majors in his first eight appearances at golf's most coveted events.
"I wouldn't be here without my family, friends, Kat, my girlfriend. They haven't been able to make the trip but they've been getting up early to watch," he said.
"We are all so honoured to be out on this beautiful golf course, to be called the Open champion winner, the Champion Golfer of the Year. It gives me chills."
The Open leaderboard
- -15: Morikawa (66)
- -13: Spieth (66)
- -11: Rahm (66), Oosthuizen (71)
For the latest news and sharpest analysis on golf, visit GolfDigest.com
Nordqvist grabs share of lead as Scottish amateur Duncan eyes glory
Hall moves into share of lead at Carnoustie