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Morikawa claims The Open at Sandwich
Morikawa claims The Open at Sandwich

Collin Morikawa was struggling to comprehend the magnitude of his “special” Open triumph after creating golfing history with his two-shot victory at Royal St George’s.

Morikawa defied his lack of experience on links courses to hold off Jordan Spieth and celebrate his debut in the Championship with victory, becoming the first golfer to win two different majors at the first attempt following his PGA win last year.

With playing-partner and overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen struggling to find the form that had helped him set a new Open record with his halfway score of 129, Morikawa produced a calm and collected performance on the final day and kept a bogey off his card in a closing 66.

Three consecutive birdies capped an outward 32 and gave him a brief four-shot lead which was whittled down to one when Spieth birdied the 10th, 13th and 14th, but Morikawa holed a decisive 20-foot putt for birdie at 14 and parred safely home to win on 15 under par.

“We only get four majors a year, and every single one of them is very special,” said Morikawa, who is the first player to win on his Open debut since Ben Curtis at the same venue in 2003. “To finally get to play an Open Championship for the first time and win it, it’s going to be that much more special.

“I won the PGA, and then coming back as the defending champ you just have a sense of like you belong, this is going to be part of you for the rest of your life. The Open Championship is going to be part of my life the rest of my life no matter what happens.

“To be a part of that history, it’s awesome. To hear ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’, chills!”