Collin Morikawa is the Champion Golfer of the Year and his Open victory will rightly grab the headlines. But there were plenty more stories, stats and fun moments that happened at Royal St George's Golf Club.
Today's Golfer's 2021 Major coverage is brought to you in association with TaylorMade.
Morikawa the history maker
Okay, so let's start with some of the things you may already know.
Morikawa is the only player in 25 years to go bogey-free in his final rounds to win multiple majors. He’s also the first player since Bobby Jones to win two Majors within eight starts. He’s the youngest player to win the Open when trailing in the final round since Seve Ballesteros won at age 22 in 1979 at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Morikawa is also only the third player ever (after Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones) to win an Open when behind through 54 holes before reaching age 25. He’s the 10th player to win an Open in his debut and the first to do it since 2003, when Ben Curtis also won at Royal St George’s. Morikawa also joined the company of Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods and Bobby Jones as only the fourth American to win the Open before age 25.
The only players to win their second Major faster than the American were Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen who went on to win 11 Majors and the Career Grand Slam respectively.
The 24-year-old's 131 (-9) total for the opening two rounds was the lowest ever by a debutant and the American was the also the first debutant to shoot a 32 on the front-nine in the final pairing of an Open. Oh, and he arguably, gave one of the best and most mature winner's speeches of all time (we'll even forgive him for calling it the British Open).
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When Morikawa's putter gets hot
Morikawa made some key changes to his bag for The Open (you can read about those here) including tweaking his putter. Those in the know suggest that if Morikawa can find some consistency with his putting then he could go on to dominate in the style of Tiger. Even if he just becomes a 'good' putter then the stats make it hard to argue. In his two-year pro career, Morikawa has only been in the top-20 for putting on six occasions at full field events...
2020 Colonial (T-18 putting): Playoff loss
2020 Workday (13): Playoff win
2020 US PGA (1): Win
2021 Workday (10): Win
2021 Memorial (6): Playoff loss
2021 Open (1): Win
Beating big names
Morikawa's clearly likes the challenge of big names breathing down his neck. In his last four victories Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka, Viktor Hovalnd, Billy Horschel and Jordan Spieth have been the runers-up!
The dream team
It was perhaps predictable that the 2017 US Walker Cup team that beat Great Britain and Ireland 19-7 in Los Angeles would go on to achieve great things, but few could have predicted just how quickly they would do it.
Between them, Cameron Champ, Doug Ghim, Stewart Hagestad, Maverick McNealy, Collin Morikawa, Doc Redman, Scottie Scheffler, Braden Thornberry, Norman Xiong and Will Zalatoris have have now combined for seven PGA Tour wins, three European Tour wins, two Major wins, a WGC win, four Korn Ferry Tour victories, 12 Major top 10s and $32,116,632 in winnings.
Spieth's costly mistakes
Jordan Spieth’s unusually sloppy bogey-bogey finish on Saturday evening, including a missed putt from a couple of feet, denied him a place in the final group alongside Louis Oosthuizen for Sunday’s final round. He went on to finish two behind Collin Morikawa who played alongside Oosthuizen on Sunday. How different could things have been? It's a question the Texan will probably have been asking himself on the flight home, but we're delighted to see him back contending and rising up the world rankings.
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A little compensation
Even though it wasn't enough for Jordan Spieth to win Major number four, his 13-under par score (267) was still enough to make history, matching Phil Mickelson's lowest score for a runner-up at the championship. Mickelson famously finished behind Henrik Stenson on an indrecible final day at the 2016 Open at Royal Troon.
A record but no crown
Louis Oosthuizen recorded his longest bogey-free start to a Major, going 34 holes without a dropped shot, and posted the lowest 36-hole total in Open history, taking just 129 shots (-11) to cover the first two rounds.
Louis Oosthuizen's 11 consecutive Major rounds inside the top three is incredibly impressive and nearly matches Tiger Woods’ record 12 in a row in 2000. Unfortunately for Louis, Tiger's tended to result in victory.
Louis' heartbreaking Majors run
2012 Masters: Lost a play-off to Bubba Watson
2015 US Open: Costly opening 77 proves key as he finishes one shot behind Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay.
2015 Open Championship: Narrowly fails to win a second consecutive St Andrews Open, missing a birdie putt on the final hole of a Monday four-hole aggregate play-off to finish one shot behind Zach Johnson.
2017 US PGA Championship: Oosthuizen completed the career grand slam of Major runner-up finishes at Quail Hollow, ending the tournament in a tie for second with Francesco Molinari and Patrick Reed, two shots behind winner Justin Thomas.
2021 US PGA Championship: Starting the final round two shots behind Phil Mickelson, the south African shot a disappointing 73 and finished tied for second with Brooks Koepka.
2021 US Open: Oosthuizen had been in contention for the entire week and shared the lead with Mackenzie Hughes and Russell Henley going into the final round and led by two shots with eight holes to play. However, a combination of his own bogeys and 11 and 17 and Jon Rahm's superb finish saw the Spaniard pip him to the title and leave Louis with a sixth Major runner-up finish.
2021 Open Championship: On course for a wire-to-wire win after his record-breaking opening 36 holes, Oosthuizen entered the final round with a one-shot lead over Morikawa, but two bogeys on the front nine combined with the American's three birdies saw him lose control and ultimately finish T3, four shots behind.
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Jon Rahm's T3 finish at Royal St George's may have been less than the Spaniard wanted, but it did ensure an incredible year in the Majors. The 26-year-old finished T5 at The Masters, T8 at the US PGA and won the US Open, giving him an average finish of 4.25 for 2021's Grand Slams.
Rahm's T3 finish is all the more impressive when you consider he struggled with the pace of the greens all week. He led the field in Greens In Regulation with 58 but his 122 putts saw him rank 53rd.
Back on top
While Rahm didn't become only the second Spanish player to lift the Claret Jug, the Ryder Cup star did return to the top of the World Ranking's for his second stint at No.1, leapfrogging Dustin Johnson for his 5th week at the top. Just 658 weeks to go to match Tiger Woods' total...
Koepka's crazy numbers
While Rahm's stats are impressive, Brooks Koepka's are ridiculous. His Sunday run at Royal St George's saw him finish T6 to back-up a T4 at the US Open and T2 at the US PGA. Ok, there's no victory in there and Koepka's Masters finish was disappointing by his own standards but, when you consider he underwent major knee surgery just four months ago and could barely move at Augusta, he has to be applauded.
And then there's his Major numbers since 2016. Koepka is a combined 92-under par, which is 64 (SIXTY FOUR) shots better than anybody else. Louis Oosthuizen's failure to get over the line also means Koepka remains the last man to win a Major wire-to-wire at the 2019 US PGA.
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Brian Harman led the field for birdies with an impressive 21 and made a fast start to the tournament. The American eventually finished in a tie for 19th, his best finish at The Open.
Marcel Siem took full advantage of his late inclusion, getting into the tournament thanks to the previous week's victory at the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge on the Challenge Tour. The Open was the 41-year-old German's 13th consecutive event and, as a reward for his T15 finish and all but certain return to the European Tour, Siem is going to take a well-earned vacation. With the way he entertained the crowds all week, he deserves it.
How to kickstart the equipment rollback
Jason Dufner wasn't in the field for The Open but still produced one of the quotes of the weekend in response to Bryson DeChambeau's "my driver sucks" comments.
"If you really wanna get the USGA serious about equipment rollbacks, just start blabbering about how your equipment doesn't go straight enough on miss hits... that should get the ball rolling on things," the 2013 US PGA champion wrote on Twitter.
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Solving slow play
Kevin Kisner played as a single in the first group of the final round and took just two-and-a-half hours to complete his round. Teeing off at 8am, the American holed his final putt at 10.30am and was probably back in the states before Morikawa had lifted the Claret Jug.
Westwood's unwanted record
In not lifting the Claret Jug, Lee Westwood has now played the most Major Championships in men’s golf history without winning one (88), not that the current Race to Dubai champion is looking at it negatively.
“I do care about that," he said. "That’s nice, that record. It shows I’ve been a good player for a long, long time. There’s not many people who have played in as many major championships as me.”
Senior call up
Jack Senior, who qualified for The Open with his finish at the previous week's Scottish Open, has achieved something a lot of players in the field may never manage. In 2011 the Englishman beat both Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in the US Amateur. He didn't manage to finish above them at St George's but did make the weekend and earned himself $26,900 with his T67 finish.
What are the chances?
The only tree on the course at Royal St George's sits to the right of the par-3 3rd green and is far from large, but that didn't stop Dustin Johnson from finding it with his tee shot on Friday and going on to make bogey. DJ was the only player to put his ball behind the tree all week.
Phil no thrill
Phil Mickelson, the 2013 winner, said he had some “focus challenges” after missing the cut on 12-over par. The US PGA champ shot his worst ever opening round at The Open with a 10-over par 80, which included a shocking missed putt on 16 and a double-bogey on the last.
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Hatton hot under the collar
Playing alongside Phil and Kevin Kisner, Tyrrell Hatton didn't seem to enjoy his Friday at The Open.
Ok, it's not that unusual for Ryder Cup star to show his emotions, but something got the Englishman seriously annoyed during the second round. Hatton broke a club by stamping on it repeatedly, was photographed giving the middle finger towards the fans and was heard swearing repeatedly. Probably best that he had the weekend off to cool down.
Perhaps it all stemmed from the trolling he received from Ryder Cup teammate Ian Poulter during Wednesday's practice round when Hatton took three attempts to escape a fairway bunker on the par-5 14th. "Have another go T," Poulter quipped, before commenting on his compatriot's club choices.
From delivering food to a Sandwich dream
While Mickelson didn't enjoy a great tournament he did help Nick Poppleton enjoy one of the weeks of his life. Euro Pro Tour player Poppleton, who has been working as an Iceland delivery driver during the Covid pandemic, qualified for the year's final Major and enjoyed practice rounds with the US PGA Champion and 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau.
“They were lovely,” Poppleton said. “They say ‘never meet your heroes,’ but they were so nice to me. They are the nicest humans you would ever want to meet, those two blokes. I can’t believe the media paint Bryson as some sort of ‘bad boy.’ He’s a lovely bloke. And he does shout ‘fore.’ In the round we played, he hit his drive over the right bunker on the 18th. That’s 330-yards, which is mental. But he nearly burst my eardrum shouting ‘fore.’ It was so loud. He’s either getting the hang of it, or he has always been doing it and no one has noticed.”
While Poppleton can be relied upon to identify golf flags, it's best you don't turn to him when it comes to identifying countries from their flags.
“I was playing the 18th in a practice round," he smiles. "Dame Laura Davies was doing an interview down the right side. I was hitting my second shot with the wind coming off the right. So my caddie told me to start my shot on the Japanese flag that is flying behind the green. Fair enough.
“But here’s where I went wrong. The flag I thought was the Japanese flag was actually the South Korean flag. The real Japanese flag was left of that. My caddie was asking me what I was doing. I told him and he started to laugh. ‘That’s Korea,” he said. I clearly need to work on my flags as much as my golf.”
A record for Rory
McIlroy didn't have a great deal to smile about as his Major drout continued for another year, but his five birdies on the front nine of Saturday's third round was a career best for the Northern Irishman. McIlroy, who drew the biggest following all week, made 17 birdies throughout the four days but still finished level par for the tournament.
"(That's) more than enough to challenge to win this golf tournament," he said. "It's just I make too many mistakes, and that's the part that I need to try to get right."
McIlroy now heads to Tokyo to compete in the Olympics for Ireland alongside Shane Lowry.
A unpredictable switch
Spieth's runner-up finish saw him leapfrog McIlroy in the world rankings for the first time since 2019. The Ryder Cup players, who are both former World No.1s, now rank 14th and 15th respectively. We're not sure anyone saw that coming at the start of 2021...
A solid defence
Shane Lowry won't be keeping the Claret Jug for a third year, but he made an impressive attempt at his defence with a T12 finish and that could help him achieve another dream. As it stands the Irishman would be part of another trophy defence by automatically qualifiying for Padraig Harrington's European Ryder Cup team. Lowry has made no secret of his desire to be on the team for Whistling Straits, with captain Harrington one of his closest friends.
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Dylan Frittelli and Jordan Spieth were paired together for Saturday's third round and it was little wonder the two appeared to be enjoying themselves. They were teammates at the University of Texas in 2012, with Frittelli making the winning putt in the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship for the Longhorns.
Frittelli only made The Open field as 11th reserve but went on to record his best Major result, finishing 5th and earning $480,000! It also saw him jump back into the world’s Top 100, up to 78th.
Ryan Fox led the driving stats at Sandwich, averaging 312.3 yards off the tee. The New Zealander couldn't convert distance into birdies, though, finishing T67. Bryson DeChambeau was 4th in the driving stats, behind Rahm and Frittelli.
A reason to jig!
Jonathan ‘Jigger’ Thomson made the tournament’s only hole-in-one, acing the 16th on Friday afternoon to guarantee his spot for the weekend on his Open debut. He finished in a tie for 53rd and took home a cool $29,417.
Mac matches Monty
In just two starts at The Open, Scotsman Robert MacIntyre has equalled Colin Montgomerie’s number of top ten finishes in the event. The 24-year-old finished T6 at Royal Portrush in 2019 and T8 at Royal St George’s.