Collin Morikawa wins 149th British Open, his second major championship victory

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The Washington Post 18 July, 2021 - 12:41pm 18 views

Who leads the British Open?

2021 British Open: Louis Oosthuizen ahead of Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth after third round of Open Championship. Eleven years after his first major championship, Louis Oosthuizen will begin Sunday in the lead for this second. The Athletic2021 British Open live updates: Leaderboard, final round tee times, schedule, odds, scores for The Open Championship

Morikawa stays cool as heat increases

Spieth chips away at Morikawa’s lead

Morikawa gets hot, but so does Spieth

Oosterhuizen stumbles on easiest hole on the course

Jordan Spieth, Corey Conners make eagle moves

Collin Morikawa shoots for another major at all of 24

Oosterhuizen falls into a tie with Morikawa

Oosthuizen, Morikawa steady through three

A position of strength (and danger) for Louis Oosthuizen

Royal St. George’s has seen British Open pain and agony and joy

Louis Oosthuizen, who knows the pain of falling short, nears another British Open title

Tee times for the leaders

Morikawa coolly wins his second major

Morikawa stays cool as heat increases

Spieth chips away at Morikawa’s lead

Morikawa gets hot, but so does Spieth

Oosterhuizen stumbles on easiest hole on the course

Jordan Spieth, Corey Conners make eagle moves

Collin Morikawa shoots for another major at all of 24

Oosterhuizen falls into a tie with Morikawa

Oosthuizen, Morikawa steady through three

A position of strength (and danger) for Louis Oosthuizen

Royal St. George’s has seen British Open pain and agony and joy

Louis Oosthuizen, who knows the pain of falling short, nears another British Open title

Tee times for the leaders

With a pristine round of four birdies and 14 pars and 10-foot par saves and approach shots worthy of string quartets sitting green-side, Morikawa won the 149th British Open over at Royal St. George’s in southeastern England. He won at 15 under par by two shots over Jordan Spieth and four over Louis Oosthuizen and reigning U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm. He won near the English Channel in his first try at the Open, golf’s oldest test of organized misery, just as he won in his first try near the Pacific Ocean last August in his first try at the PGA Championship.

He’s the first man to win two different majors in two different first tries, even if his age while winning two majors exceeds that of such legends as Gene Sarazen (20), Spieth (21), Tiger Woods (23) and Rory McIlroy (23). He’ll cope, somehow. While Spieth won two majors in his first 10 starts as of mid-2015, Morikawa has won his in a modern-record eight.

It looks like quite some life up ahead for this crafter of golfing masterpieces from La Canada Flintridge in the San Gabriel Valley just above Los Angeles, a life with an ever-decreasing need to lean on that business degree from Cal, Class of 2019.

A sunny day over in Sandwich just across from France, closing an Open back from a one-year coronavirus hiatus, started off as a story of mainly three golfers: chronic contender Oosthuizen at 12 under par, Morikawa at 11 under par and Spieth at 9 under par. It distilled to two for awhile (Morikawa and Spieth), and then it wound up flattering one. Spieth nibbled as close as one before spending much time trailing by two. Could Morikawa keep that two-shot lead through those closing holes?

He could, with talent he continues to hone and a central nervous system he continues to conquer. His closing 66 got plenty near Greg Norman’s revered 64 at the same course in 1993. He made his march from an early tangle with Oosthuizen with a sequence of birdies at Nos. 7 through 9, rich in pretty approaches, and he never lost the lead from there, putting with a polish that belied his statistical weakness there and stretching a bogey-free streak to the final 31 holes of the event.

Morikawa finished 15-under, two strokes ahead of Speith and four ahead of Oosterhuizen and Rahm, whose late-round challenge wasn’t enough to overtake Morikawa. The victory in the final golf major of the year was the second for Morikawa who has played in only eight majors, and comes less than a year after he won the PGA Championship. Spieth, for instance, won two in his 10 first majors.

Morikawa deftly and calmly sank a long putt for a birdie on No. 14, extending his lead over Spieth to two strokes. Another two strokes back, at 11-under, were Oosterhuizen, with only his second birdie of the day on 14, and Rahm, who was on a streak. His birdie at 16 was his fourth in a row (and he had an eagle at No. 7).

Spieth, bidding for a fourth major and his second Claret Jug, cut into Morikawa’s 14-under score with his fifth birdie of the day. Morikawa, looking poised and confident despite being a pro golfer for just over two years, sank a par putt on the 13th hole.

Trailing Morikawa by four strokes, Oosterhuizen uncorked a drive that very nearly was an ace, stopped only by its collision with the flagstick. That left Oosterhuizen with a short putt for birdie and, coupled with Morikawa’s par putt, moved Oosterhuizen to 11-under, three strokes back of Morikawa.

The birdie was the first of the day for Oosterhuizen, who desperately needed a break.

If he felt footsteps, he didn’t show it, taking birdies on three straight holes (7, 8, 9).

But Jordan Spieth was finding his groove, too, with two birdies that left him three strokes behind Morikawa at 11-under. Louis Oosterhuizen, hoping to win the tournament after leading each of the first three rounds, slipped to 10-under.

His second bunker shot sailed long, leaving him with a difficult putt that he placed just a few inches from the hole. That dropped him to two strokes back of Collin Morikawa.

Morikawa, sensing the chance to take the lead outright, nicely putted out for a birdie and a two-stroke lead. Lurking in third at 9-under remains Jordan Spieth.

That dropped them into a tie for third at 9-under.

Meanwhile, Brooks Koepka finished the round with a five-under 65 that put him at 8-under for the tournament.

Louis Oosterhuizen and Collin Morikawa remained tied for the lead at 11-under as they headed to the eagle-able par-5, 561-yard seventh hole, where there have been eight eagles Sunday.

The 24-year-old golfer, winner of the PGA Championship last year, had struggled with his irons on the Sandwich course, using two putting strokes in his first test on links golf. Morikawa was four shots back after 10 holes, before making a strong push and finishing with a two-under 68.

“I don’t have much experience on links golf, and pretty much all the highlights in my head are from this week,” Morikawa said Saturday. “Thankfully there is quite a few. Hopefully we can just use that momentum from the first three days and just bring it into the last 18.”

The last man to win the tournament in his first appearance was Ben Curtis, who won in 2003 when the tournament, like the 2021 version, just happened to be played Royal St. George’s.

But Morikawa left the hole still at 11-under par while Oosterhuizen took a bogey, falling into a tie with Morikawa.

Oosthuizen had a tricky time of it on the par 3, 227-yard No. 3 hole, leaving his tee shot short of the green, but, like the other two men, he converted his par putt. At the moment, he seems determined to hold off the challengers and win after finishing second in the PGA Championship and U.S. Open.

Weather conditions on the Sandwich course are ideal, warm and windless as play begins.

Spieth, playing in the second pairing, managed par on the par-four, 417-yard first hole to remain at 9-under. Oosthuizen and Morikawa both found the fairway off the tee, with Oosthuizen driving his shot 281 yards and Morikawa going for 320.

Oosthuizen and Morikawa maintained the status quo from Saturday, with Oosthuizen still leading Morikawa by a stroke, at 12-under, after both left their birdie putts short on the first hole.

He has led after all three rounds and a wire-to-wire win in the Open would be something that only Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have done in the last 30 years (via ESPN Stats and Info).

The leader after 54 holes has gone on to win four of the last eight Opens. The other four times, the winner trailed by at least three shots after 54 holes.

Royal St. George’s is the course where 42-year-old Darren Clarke notched a wildly popular win by three over Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson at the 2011 Open, then met reporters the next morning and said, “I had quite a few pints and quite a few beers and quite a few glasses of red wine.”

It’s the course where 26-year-old Ohioan Ben Curtis won as a 750-1 shot in his first major in 2003 but also where one of the most horrifying late-major sights yet seen happened on the par-3, 163-yard No. 16: Thomas Bjorn needed three shots to get out of one of the 106 bunkers on the course.

It’s the course where a 38-year-old Greg Norman topped a spectacular leader board at the 1993 Open. And it’s the course where a golfing comet named Bill Rogers epitomized his four wins in his stunning 1981 by claiming the Open by four shots.

Sports don’t work that way, of course, so Oosthuizen, a runner-up at the 2021 PGA Championship and the 2021 U.S. Open — and at four other majors since 2012 after his 2010 British Open title at St. Andrews — must do some serious fending-off. The 38-year-old South African must fend off, for starters, Collin Morikawa, a phenom of mesmerizing skill and nerve whose absurd age (24) might make a proper mensch say, Come on, man, you will have lots of chances left.

That thought can’t enter the fray, either, so Oosthuizen at 12 under par and Morikawa at 11 under will form the final pairing again Sunday. Oosthuizen will also have to conquer the others lurking behind Morikawa: famed Texan Jordan Spieth, Canadian Corey Conners and 25-year-old Texan Scottie Scheffler, and three pursuers further back — South African Dylan Frittelli, Canadian Mackenzie Hughes and Spaniard Jon Rahm,

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