The Punter's De-Brief: Marvellous Morikawa cruises to Open glory

The Open leaderboard
The final standings at the 149th Open Championship

Collin Morikawa has won the Open Championship at his first attempt and our man's back to take a look at his glorious victory at Royal St George's here...

"I’m absolutely convinced that Morikawa wouldn’t have even come close to winning yesterday if he hadn’t played in the Scottish Open the week before and it amazes me how few players use the opportunity to sharpen up their links games."

Having led the 149th Open Championship after rounds, one, two and three, pre-event 36.035/1 chance, Louis Oosthuizen, was matched at a low of 2.01/1 before a bogey at the par four fourth on Sunday saw him caught by pre-tournament 42.041/1 chance, Collin Morikawa.

The pair made matching pars at five and six but everything changed at the par five seventh. Morikawa made a straightforward birdie four but Louis ended up scrambling a bogey six after playing from bunker to bunker around the green. Morikawa was trading at around 1.654/6 with a two-stroke lead and he never looked back after that.

The 24-year-old Californian followed his birdie at seven with two more at eight and nine and after a brilliant par save after a rare missed green at 10, pre-event 21.020/1 chance, Jordan Spieth, was the only man that ever really looked to have any chance of reeling him in.

To Spieth's credit, he battled back brilliantly after a slow start, which had seen him play his first five holes in two-over-par. An eagle at seven was followed by birdies at nine, 10 and 13 and when he tapped in another at the par five 14th, he got to within a stroke of the leader but Morikawa was calmness personified.

Jordan Spieth at the Open.jpg

Morikawa made a birdie of his own at 14 to re-establish his two-stroke buffer and he parred his way in effortlessly after that to lift the Claret Jug at his first attempt.

Morikawa's victory was incredible for a number of reasons. His putting at the Scottish Open the week before had been appalling and that was the reason he went off at such a generous price.

He's also the first player to win the Open Championship at the first attempt since Ben Curtis also won at Royal St George's back in 2003 and he's the first man in history to win two majors at the first attempt. He also won the USPGA Championship on debut at Harding Park last year.

And finally, Morikawa, Robert MacIntyre, who finished tied for eighth, and Emiliano Grillo (tied 12th) were the only three players in the top-14 that were drawn PM-AM over the first two days. Those drawn AM-PM enjoyed a sizable advantage of 2.41 strokes over the first two rounds.

My Bets

Although pre-event picks Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka finished third and tied for sixth, neither man ever looked like winning. Rahm started the event too slowly on Thursday and his putter was ice-cold all week long and Koepka lost his way on Saturday after opening up round three with three bogeys in his first five holes but having backed Morikawa a couple of times in-running (see the In-Play Blog), it's been a decent week. I layed him back in-running at 1.330/100 but it does sometimes pay to be cautious...

In addition to backing Morikawa in-running my pre-event 60.059/1 pick in the Barbasol Championship, JT Poston, was an extremely unlucky loser but a profitable one all the same.

I went to the pub after the Open had finished but I kept an eye on the market and the leaderboard on my phone. He looked home and hosed as he raced to a clear lead on the back-nine and having layed him prior to the final round at 3.412/5 and in-running at 2.021/1 and 1.51/2, I thought I was probably just throwing money away when I levelled my book off by laying him one last time at 1.041/25. I was gobsmacked to wake up and see that he'd been beaten in a playoff!

A Scottish Start Looks Key

I'm absolutely convinced that Morikawa wouldn't have even come close to winning yesterday if he hadn't played in the Scottish Open the week before and it amazes me how few players use the opportunity to sharpen up their links games.

Neither Spieth or Oosthuizen played in the Scottish but as former Open Champions, it's quite clear they're very much at home on a links course but for many of the game's other star names, it seems bizarre to me that they don't bother with the Scottish given it's always played on a links track nowadays.

As per Martin Dempster's piece in The Scotsman, Bryson DeChambeau, who signed off with a five-under-par 65 to climb up into a tie for 33rd yesterday, has already expressed his intensions to add it to his schedule and I can see more following suit.

"Yes, absolutely," he replied to being asked if he was tempted to add the Scottish.

"This year was a little interesting. I didn't really know what to do with schedules. But, hopefully, I can come next year and try and play and get acclimated earlier so I can have a better chance going into The Open and hopefully I can hold up the Claret Jug. That would be awesome."

Up with the pace was yet again the place to be. Morikawa had sat tied for ninth and three off the lead after round one but Oosthuizen and Spieth had sat first and second and it was his slow start that completely scuppered the world number one and pre-event favourite, Jon Rahm.

Louis Oosthuizen at the Open 2021.jpg

Louis very nearly led from start to finish and if the market is available next year, backing your pre-event picks for small stakes in the To Lead After Every Round & Win market is a worthwhile exercise. Rahm was the only player in the field at a single-figure price so there's some juicy prices to be had and this a major where winning wire-to-wire is perfectly possible.

The European Tour hops over the Severn Bridge to Wales this week for the Cazoo Open at Celtic Manor and the PGA Tour takes in the third edition of the 3M Open. I'll be back tomorrow with the previews.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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