Collin Morikawa even hungier to defend British Open title

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – It is customary every year at the beginning of British Open week that the defending champion returns the Claret Jug he’s enjoyed in his possession for the previous year to the R&A chief executive.

That’s exactly what 2021 Open champion Collin Morikawa dutifully did Monday morning, turning it back over to Martin Slumbers, and he didn’t like it one bit.

“It sucked, ” Morikawa said with a smile Monday. “It really did. I woke up this morning and looked at it. The replica [which he had made] is beautiful, but it’s not the same. It will never be. ”

The 25-year-old Morikawa, ranked No. 4 in the world, is determined this week to bring that cherished silver chalice back home with him until 2023.

“I don’t want to dwell on the past,” Morikawa said. “I always look forward to what’s next. Maybe – hopefully – giving [the jug] back kind of frees me up and allows me just to focus on winning this week. ”

British Open
Collin Morikawa
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Still, what Morikawa accomplished last year at Royal St. Georges, capturing his second career major championship, isn’t lost on him.

“Being a defending champion at the 150th Open at St. Andrews, you can’t script it any better, ” Morikawa said.


“Other than being the defending champion at the 151st Open.”

Morikawa hasn’t won since the Open, but he finished solo fifth at the Masters in April and tied for fifth at the US Open last month. So, he’s hardly been in poor form.

“At the beginning of Thursday, it’s all a clean slate,” he said. “That’s what it is in professional golf. It’s always a clean slate. It’s always starting new. But just to know that I’ve done it in the past, have that confidence, it’s just going to be an extra little boost to kind of start off the week.

“I know guys have played St. Andrews many times and a lot of players know the course probably like the back of their hand, but I’m going to go out there and do everything it takes to be ready by Thursday [and] hopefully come out on top. It would be very, very special to defend at the 150th Open. ”

Unlike many past Open champions who’ve very publicly traveled the globe with the Claret Jug, Morikawa said it “actually hasn’t made its way too far” while in his possession.

Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa celebrates winning the 2021 British Open.
AFP via Getty Images
Collin Morikawa walks the course at St. Andrews.
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“The miles it’s traveled are very few,” he said. “It’ll make it to a few friends’ houses, made it to a couple sponsor outings, where I practice in Vegas. I’ll leave it out there a couple days here and there.

“But I think the best experience I get is just people seeing myself take it out of the case and seeing them firsthand with themselves holding it and just seeing the history that they can witness right in front of them. I think that’s one of the coolest experiences that people kind of underestimate.

“When they actually take it out and they hold it and they realize what they’re holding, it’s kind of a cool memory for me just to see what they’re kind of living through because they’ve got it in their hands and they ‘re seeing all the previous history before me. That’s the coolest thing – just seeing the reaction on people’s faces, picking up the Claret Jug. ”

Though he’s pledged his allegiance to the PGA Tour in its battle against the Saudi-backed LIV Golf, the rumors of him eventually joining LIV persist.

“I said at Riviera earlier this year that my alliance is to the PGA Tour,” he said. “Will I still watch what’s going on? I mean, yeah. You’re curious to what’s going on. But do I care who’s going to be playing or do I care who’s going to be making money? No, not at all.

“At the end of the day, I’m here to win majors, I’m here to win PGA Tour tournaments. As a kid, all I dreamed about was winning majors and winning tournaments and getting to No. 1 in the world. I never thought you’d have all these other things [tours]. I’m not just playing for the money. I love the position where I’m at, and I want to keep winning more.

“Obviously, money is a great second part of it, but at the end of the day I didn’t finish The Open last year asking what I made. I couldn’t tell you what I made last year at all. I’m telling you about the memories of holding the Claret Jug and showing it to people and bringing it around town and showing it to family. Those are the memories you’re going to make, not, ‘Hey, I made X amount of dollars.’ ”


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