Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus. Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.
Add one more name with which Colin Morikawa is now associated with his remarkable performance through majors in a span of 343 days. This one is a bit out of left field, but it speaks to how much Morikawa has achieved in his short time on the PGA Tour.
He would be the first player to make his Ryder Cup debut since Andy North in 1985, who has already won two Majors.
It was different then, of course. Tour players had to serve an apprenticeship before members of the Americas became PGA and were eligible. North won the US Open twice before playing his first Ryder Cup.
“I think three years ago you could have started getting Ryder Cup points,” North said on Tuesday. “And then you had to go through three days of school. We had to test the rules. So a lot of players didn’t play as many Ryder Cups as you would think.”
For example, Nicklaus had already won seven Majors when he played his first Ryder Cup.
“She’s special,” said North, turning her thoughts back to Morikawa. “I was pretty much around him at the PGA Championship because there was no one there. He was the most mature, prepared player I have seen in a long, long time.”
And there’s still a long road ahead for the 24-year-old Californian.
There were too many obscure records that came with the silver claret jug he won at the Royal St George. Not because Jones has won two professional Majors in eight starts or fewer. Nicklaus, Woods, Spieth and Rory McIlroy are on the list of having two majors before the age of 25. Nicklaus, like Morikawa, won two of them when he was behind after 54 holes.
The numbers are equally impressive: a finish of 64 to win the PGA Championship at Harding Park last August, 66 on the final day to win the British Open on Sunday. He played his last 23 holes in the PGA and his last 31 in the Open without a bogey.
And he made his place in the record books as the first man to win two Majors while playing for the first time.
His calm, his polish, his poise show that Morikawa is never in a hurry. His record indicates otherwise. And his wisdom was evident on Saturday night when he was asked about playing in the final group for the first time.
“I’ve never been in the same situation as all the other last times,” he replied.
Everything is new. And then all that stuff seems old hat.
Morikawa still thinks about dinner with Justin Thomas on the eve of his pro debut in June 2019. Thomas assures them that while every path is different – some short, some long – talent is never denied. Morikawa won on his sixth start.
Winning two Majors in two years puts Morikawa into golf’s elite, and he will face even more attention and scrutiny at the Olympics next week and in the Whistling Straits for his first Ryder Cup.
If there are any lessons to be learned – he has proven proficient at that – it is to reset the goals. He feels he failed to do so when he won the PGA Championship last year.
“I’m not going to throw everything in the trash and just say, ‘Well, we’re completely different individuals.’ But the goals have to change,” Morikawa said. “I didn’t do that last year.”
And it showed. He missed only one cut in his first 22 starts against a full field. And then he missed three consecutive cuts in the tournament with one cut. He only had two top 10s in his last nine tournaments in 2020.
“I want to end the season on a strong note, and I’m going to sit down – when things slow down, hopefully – and try and hug and find out what’s next,” Morikawa said.
It doesn’t take much to hold him back.
His put at Royal St George stood out, especially those he buried on the 14th and 15th holes (one for birdie, one for par), which were important. Without available data at the British Open, his performance in key insert statistics would not apply to his PGA Tour rankings.
Morikawa is ranked 170th. The only other top 10 player outside the top 100 on the PGA Tour is Thomas at No. 108.
This did not stop him from winning two Majors and one World Golf Championship among his five victories in just 52 individual tournaments around the world.
“Stay down the path he’s walking,” said Spieth. “He swings the club beautifully, gets it into a position that makes it very, very difficult not to start the ball over the line. So, he is going to be a very consistent tee for the green. Obviously That is, with the shots he makes and the putts he puts in, he is not afraid of high pressure situations and winning a big championship.
“I think winning one can play really good golf with a lot of people in a week,” he said. “By winning two, three or more, he has clearly proved that this stage is where he wants to be.”