Sport Morikawa's rapid rise to major records
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When Shane Lowry lifted the Claret Jug at The Open in 2019, Collin Morikawa was just weeks into his professional career. Now, just two years later, the American finds himself a multiple major winner.
Morikawa ripped up the record books once again at Royal St George's, just as he did at last year's PGA Championship, to storm to a two-shot victory and be crowned the Champion Golfer of the Year.
The 24-year-old's win in Sandwich is the latest accolade in what is rapidly becoming a glittering career, with Morikawa already reaching heights that many of golf's all-time greats failed to manage.
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Morikawa quickly burst on the scene when he made the switch from the amateur ranks barely 24 months ago, posting back-to-back top-four finishes on the PGA Tour before securing a breakthrough win - in just his fourth professional start - at the Barracuda Championship.
The former Walker Cup winner made the cut in his first 22 PGA Tour starters, a record only surpassed by Tiger Woods' 25-cut streak, with Morikawa then bouncing back from ending that run at the Travelers Championship by winning the Workday Charity Classic in his very next start.
Those still questioning Morikawa's talent were soon silenced on his PGA Championship debut at TPC Harding Park, where a final-round 64 saw him pull clear of a congested leaderboard and register a maiden major title.
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Morikawa has continued to impress amongst the world's elite ever since, winning the WGC-Workday Championship, posting top-20 finishes in the first three majors of 2021 and narrowly missing out in a play-off to Patrick Cantlay at the Memorial Tournament last month.
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The world No 4 still came into the final men's major of the year slightly under the radar due to never previously playing The Open and holding limited links golf experience, other than his Scottish Open appearance the previous week, although that proved to be no issue as he made more major history.
Rounds of 67 and 64 over the first two days left Morikawa just two off the halfway lead on the Kent coast, with a third-round 68 moving him within a shot of Louis Oosthuizen and seeing him go out alongside the South African in the final group.
Morikawa followed a steady start to his major Sunday by going on a run of three consecutive birdies from the seventh and taking advantage of the par-five 14th, pulling him clear of the field, before looking calm and composed along the closing stretch to see out a second major victory in style.
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A bunker on the fifth effectively ended the Australian's challenge while countryman Adam Scott says he's sick of playing mediocre golf after finishing 46th.That Smith shot a four-over 74 was disappointing, that he made birdies at the last two holes to salvage his scorecard was notable. He was the only man in the field to pick up shots at both of those holes on Sunday (Monday AEST). Second-placed Jordan Spieth would have paid good money for a pair of threes, which would have given him a play-off with Collin Morikawa, but he parred them both.
The win sees Morikawa become the first Open debutant to lift the Claret Jug since Ben Curtis won at the same venue in 2003, while the American is the first player since Woods to have won The Open and the PGA Championship before turning 25.
It has taken just eight major starts for Morikawa to become a two-time winner, the fewest needed since Bobby Jones in 1926, with the victory also seeing him become the first player in history to win two separate majors in debut appearances.
Morikawa will now quickly turn his attention to the Olympic Games, where he will be one of the favourites to win gold for Team USA, before switching his focus back to making a run at FedExCup glory ahead of a Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits this September.
Will Morikawa enjoy further major success in the years ahead? On the basis of the last 12 months, it seems inevitable he will continue to go from strength to strength. A future Grand Slam contender? You would not bet against it.
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