Royal St. George’s Golf Club, Sandwich, Kent, England — July 18, 2021
Louis Oosthuizen won The Open Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews Scotland exactly 10 years ago today. If he scores his 2nd victory, in this oldest of professional golf’s major championships, it will be because he was able to control his emotions on the most difficult of stages.
Oosthuizen leads Collin Morikawa by a stroke entering today’s final round. The 38-year-old veteran vs the 24-year-old young gun, who has the calmer nerves? Pressure and how you deal with it is key to putting your name on a trophy in one of golf’s major tournaments. Then you must deal with the course and if anyone can conquer it.
With ideal conditions for the 4th straight day, Brooks Koepka was the only golfer to make a significant early move. His 65 put him at 8 under, the leader in the clubhouse. Not likely to put too much of a scare into the final groups.
Jordan Spieth was the first of the leaders to falter, missing the green on the 491-yard long par-4, 4th hole. Unable to get up and down Spieth carded a bogey and dropped 4 strokes out of the lead.
The difficult 4th proved to be a troublesome hole for all the players atop the leaderboard. Both Louis Oosthuizen and Collin Morikawa missed the green. Louis chose to try and use the slope of the green to get close to the pin, his effort failed, leaving a long putt to attempt to save par. Collin dropped a high pitch much closer to the hole. Oosthuizen two-putted for bogey, Morikawa saved par and earned a tie for the lead.
Spieth found more trouble hitting into the greenside bunker on the par-3, 6th hole. A safe out and 2 putts cost him another stroke as he dropped to -7.
Closing the Gap
Dylan Frittelli made back-to-back birdies on 6 and 7 to get to -8. An eagle on the par-5, 7th for Spieth erased his two early bogeys and he was back to 9 under par. After opening with a pair of bogeys, Corey Conners birdied the 6th and eagled the 7th to join Spieth at -9.
The 7th hole is one of only two par 5’s on the course, the green is reachable in 2 with a good drive off the tee. It is an excellent scoring opportunity as Spieth and Conners can attest. It proved to be a significant hole for the final pairing of the day.
Oosthuizen found the front greenside bunker with his 2nd shot on the hole. Morikawa came up just short of the green with his approach. Oosthuizen bladed his bunker shot and ended up in the sand trap on the opposite side of the green. Morikawa chipped close and made the putt for birdie. Oosthuizen, after not making a bogey on the front side in three previous rounds, carded his 2nd of the day to drop out of the lead.
Just when it looked like lead swaps might be the order of the day, the course yielded to the laser-like skill of its guests. Three straight birdies closed out the front nine for Morikawa putting him solidly in command at -14. After blowing a tire on the easiest hole on the course, Oosthuizen limped to the midway point of the round at -10, four strokes out of the lead he had held since Day one.
Birdies on 9 and 10 keep Spieth within striking distance at 11 under par. Morikawa looked like he might open the door after missing the green on the 10th hole and was left with a difficult up and down to save par. No problem, no jitters for the young man.
Louis Oosthuizen hit the flagstick on the par-3, 11th hole, and converted the short putt for his first birdie of the day. He was back to -11 and tied for 2nd with Spieth. With holes running out, it was down to the Top 3 to decide the 149th Open Golf Championship.
Down the Stretch
Jordan Spieth, playing in the group ahead of Morikawa and Oosthuizen, birdied the 13th to close within 2 of the lead. Depending on your mindset, knowing what is happening before you have to perform could be considered an advantage for some or a disadvantage for others.
Morikawa could not match Spieth’s effort but made par, Oosthuizen likely took himself out of contention with a bogey.
The scene repeated itself on the 14th with Spieth carding his 2nd birdie in a row on the last of the par 5’s. This time Morikawa and Oosthuizen answered the challenge with birdies of their maintaining the status quo.
Jon Rahm birdied 4 of the final 6 holes to post a score of 66, good for a total of 11 under par. Spieth had birdie chances on both 17 and 18 but could not convert. Spieth’s score of 66 closed out his tournament 13 under par.
Collin Morikawa cooly closed out his victory with 4 pars in a row to capture his 2nd major championship in just 8 starts. The difference in this one? There were fans in attendance to witness the feat and acknowledge the accomplishment with thunderous applause. Well deserved for the Champion Golfer of the Year.
The future is bright for Collin, he becomes the first golfer in history to win 2 separate major championships in his 1st start at each event. The 2020 PGA Championship and this, his first visit to The Open. He is only the 8th player to win two majors before the age of 25
Now, the golfer with Chinese and Japanese heritage travels to Tokyo, Japan to represent the United States in the Olympics. Morikawa’s teammates are Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, and Xander Schauffele. The women’s team consists of Nelly Korda, Jessica Korda, Lexi Thompson, and Danielle Kang.
Results of the 149th Open Championship from Royal St. George’s Golf Club
|Position||Player||To Par||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Total|
|T26||Byeong Hun An||-3||67||70||73||67||277|
|T40||Daniel Van Tonder||-1||68||66||74||71||279|