The 149th Open | 2021 Royal St George's

Morikawa's dream Open debut

Royal St George's had to wait 12 months longer than expected to stage The 149th Open, but when the Championship took place it proved well worth the wait.

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We take a look back on the story of a thrilling week, which culminated in a glorious debut victory for Collin Morikawa.

Oosthuizen hits the front

Scoring had proved tough in the previous two Opens at Royal St George's, with Ben Curtis the only player under par in 2003 and Darren Clarke one of just four men to finish in red figures eight years later.

However, from the early stages of The 149th Open, it was clear more birdie opportunities would be on offer this time around.

The combination of a relatively green links and wonderful weather served as a green light for the world's best players to attack, particularly in the morning when there was next to no wind.

Much is often made of the importance of being on the right side of the draw at The Open and, while the afternoon starters on Thursday only faced a slight increase in wind speeds, it was clear those out earlier in the day enjoyed the better conditions.

Indeed, six of the eight players to shoot 66 or lower teed off in a 44-minute window between 9:25am and 10:09am, with Louis Oosthuizen the pick of the bunch as the Champion Golfer of 2010 put together a bogey-free 64 in the Sandwich sunshine.

Playing alongside defending Champion Shane Lowry and world number two Jon Rahm, Oosthuizen began his Championship with seven consecutive pars but then caught fire with birdies at eight, nine, 10, 13, 14 and 16.

"(It was) probably, in my mind, the perfect round I could have played," said the South African, who was looking to improve on second-place finishes in each of the two previous Majors.

Another Champion Golfer, Jordan Spieth, also shone on day one with a five-under 65, the same score as fellow American Brian Harman, while Stewart Cink, Dylan Frittelli, Mackenzie Hughes, Webb Simpson and Benjamin Hebert all carded rounds of 66.

On a day packed with birdies, Morikawa flew under the radar somewhat as he went round in 67, a score bettered only by Simpson and Hebert among the afternoon starters.

Louis Oosthuizen on day one of The 149th Open


-6 Louis Oosthuizen

-5 Jordan Spieth, Brian Harman

-4 Stewart Cink, Dylan Frittelli, Mackenzie Hughes, Webb Simpson, Benjamin Hebert

Morikawa makes his move

If it was easy for Morikawa's opening round to go unnoticed, the same certainly could not be said for his efforts on day two.

Having teed off at 8:25am trailing Oosthuizen by three, the 24-year-old sensationally stormed clear at the top of the leaderboard as he followed birdies at the first and fifth with four further gains in the space of five holes from the eighth.

When Morikawa picked up his seventh shot of the day on the 14th, he was 10 under for the Championship and only needed four pars to match the Royal St George's course record.

Although he then bogeyed the 15th before parring in, he still held a three-shot lead by the time he reached the clubhouse and could be hugely satisfied with his position.

To his immense credit, Oosthuizen regained top spot in the afternoon, following his first-day 64 with a similarly brilliant 65 to set a record low aggregate for The Open through 36 holes.

Oosthuizen's 11-under 129 left him two clear of Morikawa at the summit, with Spieth one further back and world number one Dustin Johnson among a trio at seven under.

On another day of low scoring, Rahm and Emiliano Grillo matched Morikawa's 64 to climb to five and six under respectively, while a 65 boosted Lowry's hopes of mounting another challenge for the Claret Jug, lifting the Irishman from one over to four under.

A rejuvenated Marcel Siem, who had only qualified days earlier courtesy of a victory on the Challenge Tour, provided plenty of highlights (and fist pumps) in a second successive 67 that continued his feel-good story.

Friday also featured the standout shot of the Championship as Jonathan 'Jigger' Thomson thrilled the huge crowds at the 16th with a hole-in-one.

Thomson, who overcame leukaemia as a child and came through Final Qualifying at Hollinwell to book his place at Royal St George's, found the target with a gap wedge to prompt roars of jubilation.

Another notable performer was Matthias Schmid, whose second-round 65 not only put him in pole position for the Silver Medal, but also equalled the lowest score by an amateur at The Open, which was originally set by Tom Lewis at the same venue in 2011.

Schmid would have secured the Silver Medal on Friday had fellow amateur Yuxin Lin not pulled off a courageous up-and-down from a greenside bunker at 18 to join the German in making the cut.

A total of 77 players reached the weekend with scores of one over or better, but a host of big names missed the cut, including Champion Golfers Francesco Molinari (+2), Henrik Stenson (+2), Stewart Cink (+3), Ernie Els (+4), Darren Clarke (+6) and Phil Mickelson (+12).

Cink's exit was particularly surprising, as the Champion of 2009 backed up his superb opening-round 66 with a disappointing 77.

Collin Morikawa during round two of The 149th Open


-11 Louis Oosthuizen

-9 Collin Morikawa

-8 Jordan Spieth

-7 Dustin Johnson, Dylan Frittelli, Scottie Scheffler

Wire-to-wire win looms for Louis

The Championship threatened to develop into a thrilling three-horse race between a trio of Major winners on Saturday, with Oosthuizen, Morikawa and Spieth remaining the men to beat.

All three were tied at -11 as they approached the closing holes, but it was the South African who ultimately claimed sole possession of the overnight lead for the third day in succession.

A valuable birdie at 16 lifted Oosthuizen clear of his rivals and represented a significant boost after he had slipped back with bogeys at the 11th and 13th.

Morikawa bettered the leader's 69 by a solitary stroke to close within one, a fine effort given he began round three poorly with two dropped shots in the first five holes. Birdies at seven and eight got Morikawa heading in the right direction again and he was firmly in the mix once again when he claimed two more back-to-back gains at 13 and 14.

For much of the afternoon, Spieth had perhaps looked the most likely to pull clear, yet the Champion of 2017 was left to rue a painful finish that would ultimately prove costly.

Spieth bogeyed the 17th and then gave up another shot in alarming fashion at the final hole, failing to convert a par putt from around two feet.

Jordan Spieth following his missed putt on the 18th green in round three of The 149th Open

That left him three behind Oosthuizen on nine under and two adrift of Morikawa as the final pairing remained unchanged for Sunday.

Many would have expected Johnson and Brooks Koepka to edge closer to the leaders on Moving Day, but they posted respective scores of 73 and 72 to be four and three under through 54 holes.

Lowry also seemingly had too much to do, seven off the pace after a 69, but Rahm picked up three shots in the final five holes to stay within striking distance at seven under, one behind Corey Conners and Scottie Scheffler.


-12 Louis Oosthuizen

-11 Collin Morikawa

-9 Jordan Spieth

-8 Corey Conners, Scottie Scheffler

Morikawa the master on thrilling final day

A fourth consecutive day of clear blue skies and warm sunshine greeted players and fans on Sunday as the time came to determine who would secure the iconic Claret Jug.

Oosthuizen had been the front-runner all week, but it was his playing partner Morikawa who ultimately claimed glory in magnificent fashion.

Six successive pars at the start of the afternoon were enough to earn Morikawa a share of the lead as Oosthuizen dropped a shot on the fourth.

A decisive swing then followed in the final three holes of the front nine. Oosthuizen made a clumsy bogey at the par-5 seventh and could only par the next two, while Morikawa stormed clear with three birdies in a row - his outstanding play summed up by a towering approach to the eighth that came close to securing an eagle.

At 14 under with nine holes to play, Morikawa briefly led by four strokes. However, significant pressure was soon applied by the charging Spieth, who bounced back from bogeys at the fourth and sixth by picking up six shots in eight holes to close within one.

When Spieth birdied the 14th to reach 13 under, all the momentum was with the Texan, but Morikawa responded superbly by sinking a mid-range birdie putt on the same hole to give himself welcome breathing space.

A gutsy par save from the leader at the next felt like a key moment and so it proved as Morikawa parred his way in to triumph by two with a 15-under aggregate of 265 - a record at Royal St George's.

Huge cheers greeted the new Champion Golfer as he strode towards the 18th green knowing his job was all but done. A two-putt par confirmed Morikawa as only the second debutant winner of The Open since 1975 and the first since Curtis shocked the sporting world at Sandwich in 2003.

Collin Morikawa admires the Claret Jug alongside R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers

Spieth had reason to regret his poor finish to Saturday and sluggish start to Sunday, but the three-time Major winner could still be immensely proud of his showing as he finished on 13 under, two clear of Oosthuizen and the fast-finishing Rahm. Next came Frittelli in fifth on nine under, with Koepka's final-day 65 enough to claim a share of sixth.

A strong title defence from Lowry saw the Champion of 2019 finish in a tie for 12th at six under, while Schmid did go on to claim the Silver Medal in his final round as an amateur, his two-over aggregate enough to beat Lin by four.


-15 Collin Morikawa

-13 Jordan Spieth

-11 Louis Oosthuizen, Jon Rahm

-9 Dylan Frittelli

View the full leaderboard from The 149th Open here.