Golf

Collin Morikawa’s dominant start to career has shades of Tiger Woods’ stunning emergence

Morikawa eager to savour taste of success after debut Open triumph

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The late 1990’s and early 2000’s saw golfing dominance like no other. After Tiger Woods flew onto the professional scene as a fresh 20-year-old in 1996, nobody could have predicted what was to come. 82 PGA Tour wins, 15 major titles and a whole host of records broken saw Woods dominate the sport and became to many the greatest golfer to ever play the game.

Of course a number of exciting prospects have flourished since the joint-most successful PGA Tour player of all time began his reign as golf’s poster boy, but it is fair to say no one has come close to the 45-year-old’s greatness. 

However, after bursting onto the world stage as an exciting 22-year-old two years ago it feels like American star Collin Morikawa has shown shades of the golfing greatness after his remarkable first three years on Tour.

Following his PGA Tour debut at the RBC Canadian Open in 2019, Morikawa announced himself as one of the Tour’s hottest prospects, by going on a remarkable run that has only even been narrowly topped by Woods.

The 24-year-old would go on to make the cut in each of his first 22 PGA Tour starts after falling short in his 23rd at the 2020 Travellers Championship, just three less than the great Woods managed in his early PGA Tour voyage.

During that 22-event run, the youngster was not just edging himself over the cut line, he was announcing himself as a real tournament player from the very beginning. 

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The American secured two top four finishes in his first three Tour starts, before earning his maiden win in just his fourth appearance at the 2019 Barracuda Championship, after edging out Troy Merritt by three points in Nevada.

A note more than worth adding comes with Morikawa’s second win, which again showcased why for many he is destined for greatness. 

After he finally missed the cut line following the 22-run stint, he was quick to put any disappointment behind him by following this up with victory at the Workday Charity Classic exactly one week later. The mentality of a future great was already clear to see.

The real test for any star sportsman is of course performing on the biggest stage, and for golfers this comes in the shape of the four major events across the calendar.

A number of the world’s best in today’s game are still yet to get their hands on a coveted major title. Morikawa’s 2021 Ryder Cup teammates, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau just to name a few.

However, what seems to set the 24-year-old apart from the rest of the starring pack is his already staggering major record. 

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In just his second ever major appearance – and first at a PGA Championship – Morikawa won the 2020 PGA Championship, thanks to a scintillating final round of 64 that saw him pull clear of the likes of Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. A performance from a man who looked like he had done it countless times before.

The American’s duck to water approach to major championships continued into 2021, after securing three top 20 finishes in the opening three signature events of the year, including a tied-fourth placing at the US Open in June of this year.

Just one month after a strong showing at the 2021 US Open at Torrey Pines, arguably the 24-year-old’s biggest victory came next, as he defeated the gruelling links conditions of Royal St. George’s to win his very first Claret Jug on Open Championship debut.

The win saw the youngster rip up the history books of golf’s most historic event, as victory saw him become the first debutant to lift the famous trophy since Ben Curtis in 2003, whilst also becoming the first ever golfer to win two major championships on two separate debuts.

Once again this victory saw him brush shoulders with the records of Woods, as the win in Kent saw him become the first man since the 15-time major winner to win both the Open and PGA Championship before the age of 25.

Arguably the only question mark left on the youngster’s glittering resume was could he perform on golf’s most pressuring, and exhilarating stage? The Ryder Cup.

Unsurprisingly this question mark was soon ticked off following his Team US debut at Whistling Straits last month, as a remarkable rookie showing saw him go unbeaten across the week, winning three matches and halving one.

There is no doubting the sheer influence Tiger has had on the world of golf.

Many would argue the 2019 Masters champion made the sport his own throughout his period of dominance, becoming not just a star in his own field but one across the whole sporting world, which was unprecedented territory for any golfer.

Plus, with the game’s standard becoming stronger and stronger, and the demands becoming tougher and tougher, the chances of Woods’ remarkable success ever being toppled are all-but impossible.

Whilst the 82-time PGA Tour winner’s success will continued to be an unrivalled one, Morikawa’s meteoric rise to stardom has earned himself plenty of Woods-like comparisons, which for any golfer is arguably one of the biggest compliments in the game.

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