Morikawa captured the first major championship of his career at last year’s PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park. He finds himself in contention for a second major this week at the British Open at Royal St. George’s and would be making history if he can hang on and win the Claret Jug.
Collin Morikawa set Royal St. George’s on fire with a 64 on Friday
Morikawa’s championship got off to a good start after he carded a 67 in the opening round on Thursday. Yet, he was that much better in Round 2.
The 24-year-old was totally dialed in with the irons. He hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation, showcasing just why he came into the championship ranked first in terms of strokes gained in approach. Morikawa also ranked first in greens in regulation (GIR) percentage.
The biggest difference this time around was Morikawa’s ability to make putts. He has traditionally struggled with the late stick, ranking 172nd in strokes gained putting this season. However, the Los Angeles native was rolling the rock on Friday.
Morikawa averaged 1.5 putts per green in regulation on Friday per the Open Championship website, which was above field average early in the day. That bodes extremely well for his chances of contending and possibly winning his second major title.
Morikawa would have a trump card over Tiger Woods if he wins the Open Championship
It might be an exaggeration to suggest anyone has a trump card over Tiger Woods. He is a 15-time major championship winner and the biggest star in the history of the sport.
Yet, Morikawa has the opportunity to do something Woods never could: win his debut starts in two different majors.
Indeed, Morikawa was making his first start at last year’s PGA Championship and managed to hoist the Wanamaker trophy, thanks in part to an absurd eagle on the 16th hole at TPC Harding Park. He is also making his British Open debut this week after the Open Championship was canceled last year due to COVID-19.
Justin Ray of Twenty First Group sports intelligence noted a win at Royal St. George’s would make Morikawa the first player in men’s golf history to win his debut in two different major championships.
Woods is still the youngest player to win The Masters. He won the green jacket in 1997 at just 21 years old. However, he would not win his next major until the 1999 PGA Championship. That title eventually set off one of the more historic runs in golf history.
Morikawa will have to hold off a slew of challengers
Claiming the Claret Jug certainly won’t be easy for Morikawa.
Argentinian Emiliano Grillo matched Morikawa with a 64 of his own on Friday. Jordan Spieth and Louis Oosthuizen are still on the course. Both players are in tremendous form, and either could have the clubhouse lead when the day is done.
Still, Morikawa should be in a good spot if he can continue to make putts. He might be the best ball-striker in the field and can routinely give himself looks at birdies if he can stay in or around the fairway.
Stats courtesy of PGATour.com unless otherwise noted.