Collin Morikawa will return to the British Open this week in a very different position than the one he was in a year ago, when he walked off the course with the Claret Jug in hand.
Morikawa officially returned the iconic trophy this week, and was given a replica in return.
“It sucked. It really did,” Morikawa said Monday ahead of the 150th British Open. “I woke up this morning and looked at it. The replica is beautiful, but it's not the same. It really isn't. It will never be.
“But I don't want to dwell on the past. I think I've talked about that early on in my career. I always look forward to what's next. Maybe hopefully just giving it back kind of frees me up and allows me just to focus on winning this week.”
Does he think that will actually work?
“I just made that up to make it sound good,” he joked later. “Hopefully that was the case.”
Morikawa won the British Open last year at Royal St. George’s by two strokes in his tournament debut, which marked the second major win of his young career. The 25-year-old, who won the PGA Championship the season before, finished inside the top-10 in the final three majors last season, too.
He’s currently listed at +2,800 on BetMGM to win the British Open, well behind favorite Rory McIlroy.
While he had climbed to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings, Morikawa has struggled in the lead up to his title defense and his first run at St. Andrews. He’s now No. 8 in the world, and missed the cut last week at the Scottish Open — his second missed cut in three starts, though he finished T5 at the U.S. Open between those.
“I am looking for something,” Morikawa said. “We're at the end of our season. We're at the fourth major. Playoffs are coming up pretty soon. I want to give it a run. I really haven't been in contention at all this year in any tournament, and it sucks because I love being in those spots. I love coming down the stretch and knowing that you've got to make some great shots, make some birdies, and close it out, and I just haven't put myself in that position.”
Pulling that off this week at a course like St. Andrews, however, is a much bigger challenge. Morikawa even seemed a little relieved that he made it to the course early after missing the cut in Scotland, too.
That way, he got past the history the course and surrounding town holds.
“I did that all on Sunday when I got here, and I'm over it. I have to,” he said. “That's the only way I can focus on this tournament. You've got to embrace the history. You have to embrace everything. Everything that has happened before us.
“But I'm here to win a tournament. I'm here to play some really good golf. Even though my week is filled with the couple extra media obligations and a couple other appearances doesn't mean by Thursday morning I'll not be ready. I'm going to do everything I can, just like any other event I've played well in or won, to be waking up Thursday morning ready to play 72 holes of really good golf.”