Collin Morikawa threatens Major scoring record as he takes Open lead

American has to settle for a 64 after being seven under after 14 holes


American Collin Morikawa was blissfully unaware of his chance to make history as he set the clubhouse target on day two of the 149th Open Championship.

Morikawa birdied half of his first 14 holes in benign conditions at Royal St George’s and needed to play the remaining four in two under on the par-70 layout to card the lowest round in any men’s Major.

However, the 2020 US PGA champion bogeyed the 15th and missed good birdie chances on the 16th and 18th to return a 64, a shot outside the course record and two adrift of the Major mark set by Branden Grace at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

Morikawa’s halfway total of 131 was also a shot outside the Open record, but at nine under par the 24-year-old enjoyed a three-stroke lead over Dani van Tonder, Marcel Siem and Emiliano Grillo.

“I had no clue what any record was. I don’t know any of those numbers,” Morikawa said. “I’m awful with that stuff. Now I do know.

“I was just trying to make a lot of birdies. The bogey on 15 was a little unfortunate. I hit a good second shot out of the rough, put myself in a good position, just didn’t have enough speed [on the par putt].”

Morikawa could only finish in a tie for 71st in last week’s Scottish Open but credited the experience —– and changing three of his irons to cope with the links turf – for his performance at Royal St George’s, where Ben Curtis was the last debutant to win the Open in 2003.

The biggest difference is that Curtis was 396th in the world at the time, while Morikawa is ranked fourth and already a Major champion following his victory at Harding Park last August.

“Last week I wanted to win but I came out of it learning a lot more,” Morikawa said. “The style of golf is different and last week helped tremendously.

“I would not be here if I had not played last week. Just having fescue fairways where the ball sits differently was huge to see. I changed some of my irons strictly because I could not find the centre of the clubface.”

While Morikawa was speaking to the media about his round, Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo matched his 64 and came agonisingly close to equalling the course record.

Five under par for his round following an eighth birdie of the day on the 17th, Grillo almost holed his approach to the last for an eagle before tapping in for birdie.

Siem reached a career-high of 48th in the world in 2013 and is a four-time winner on the European Tour, but lost his card in 2019, shortly after being penalised 10 shots in the French Open.

The 41-year-old German incorrectly believed preferred lies were in play and lifted, cleaned and replaced his ball five times on the fairway in his first round before discovering his error and walking off at the turn.

Siem, who celebrated his birthday on Thursday, secured a place in the Open by winning a Challenge Tour event at the weekend, but considered not playing in order to focus on gaining his card via the second-tier circuit.

“I wasn’t sure about where I’d be on the Challenge Tour rankings if I won in France,” Siem said after a second consecutive 67. “I had to get the job done before making a decision about playing in The Open.

“Then I saw I was third on the rankings but I was still thinking ‘Am I ready for the big stage?’ I want to get my card back first and foremost. I tried to stay calm.

“I heard that 10 per cent of the Open prizemoney goes towards the Challenge Tour rankings so then it was a no-brainer to come here. It’s the best event in the world. I’m glad I’m here now. I’ve made the right decision.”

Meanwhile, Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris said he was “completely gutted” after being forced to withdraw from his Open Championship debut through injury.

Zalatoris, who was second to Hideki Matsuyama at Augusta National in April, injured his back in hacking out of the heavy rough on the 15th hole on Thursday.

The 24-year-old American, who had earlier holed his second shot to the 12th for an eagle, managed to complete an opening 69 but was advised not to continue in the year’s final major.

“I am beyond disappointed to pull out of The Open Championship this week,” Zalatoris wrote on Instagram.

“The second shot out of the heavy rough on #15 yesterday sent a tingling down my left leg and I have been advised not to risk any further damage to my back.

“I contemplated not finishing the round yesterday, but considering this is my first Open, I felt like I needed to finish the round (even if it meant embarrassing myself a little at the end ha!)

“I tried to hit some balls this morning and did some extra work in the gym with no improvement. I am completely gutted to not be moving forward in the championship.

“I look forward to coming back as soon as I can . . . thank you everyone for the support.”

Clubhouse scores

British and Irish unless stated, par 70

129 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 64 65

131 Collin Morikawa (USA) 67 64

132 Jordan Spieth (USA) 65 67

133 Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 66 67

134 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 70 64, Justin Harding (Rsa) 67 67, Andy Sullivan 67 67, Daniel van Tonder (Rsa) 68 66, Marcel Siem (Ger) 67 67

135 Paul Casey 68 67, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 66 69, Brooks Koepka (USA) 69 66, Jon Rahm (Esp) 71 64

136 Corey Conners (Can) 68 68, Tony Finau (USA) 70 66, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 68 68, Brian Harman (USA) 65 71, Shane Lowry 71 65, Cameron Smith (Aus) 69 67, Danny Willett 67 69

137 Daniel Berger (USA) 70 67, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 70 67, Joel Dahmen (USA) 69 68

138 Tommy Fleetwood 67 71, Ian Poulter 72 66, Webb Simpson (USA) 66 72, Jonathan Thomson 71 67, Johannes Veerman (USA) 70 68, Matt Wallace 70 68, Jack Senior 67 71

139 Max Homa (USA) 70 69, Billy Horschel (USA) 70 69, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 68 71, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 70 69, Chan Kim (USA) 70 69, Kevin Kisner (USA) 70 69, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 69 70, Aaron Rai 70 69, Matthias Schmid (Ger) 74 65, Adam Scott (Aus) 73 66, Kevin Streelman (USA) 70 69, Justin Thomas (USA) 72 67

140 Abraham Ancer (Mex) 69 71, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 68 72, Richard Bland 70 70, Sam Burns (USA) 71 69, Matthew Fitzpatrick 71 69, Pádraig Harrington 72 68, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 66 74, Jason Kokrak (USA) 70 70, Rory McIlroy 70 70, Xander Schauffele (USA) 69 71, Sam Horsfield 70 70

141 Marcus Armitage 69 72, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 71 70, Rickie Fowler (USA) 69 72, Talor Gooch (USA) 69 72, Ryosuke Kinoshita (Jpn) 72 69, Robert MacIntyre 72 69, Richard Mansell 72 69, JC Ritchie (Rsa) 71 70, Antoine Rozner (Fra) 70 71, Poom Saksansin (Tha) 73 68, Brendan Steele (USA) 73 68, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 71 70

Projected cut mark

142 Keegan Bradley (USA) 71 71, Jorge Campillo (Esp) 72 70, Tyrrell Hatton 72 70, Russell Henley (USA) 70 72 , Rikard Karlberg (Swe) 72 70, Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 69 73, Chris Kirk (USA) 68 74, Kurt Kitayama (USA) 71 71, Marc Leishman (Aus) 75 67, Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 69 73, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 68 74, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 73 69, Ryutaro Nagano (Jpn) 70 72, Ryan Palmer (USA) 72 70, Victor Perez (Fra) 70 72, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 71 71, Harold Varner III (USA) 70 72, Jimmy Walker (USA) 70 72

143 Rafael Cabrera Bello (Esp) 70 73, Patrick Cantlay (USA) 74 69, Branden Grace (Rsa) 72 71, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 70 73, Daniel Hillier (Nzl) 72 71, Charley Hoffman (USA) 72 71, Matt Jones (Aus) 72 71, Troy Merritt (USA) 73 70, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 72 71, Patrick Reed (USA) 72 71, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 71 72, Laird Shepherd 74 69, Brendon Todd (USA) 72 71, Gary Woodland (USA) 73 70, Min-Woo Lee (Aus) 74 69

144 John Catlin (USA) 75 69, Ricardo Celia (Col) 72 72, Ernie Els (Rsa) 72 72, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp) 71 73, Adam Hadwin (Can) 75 69, Richard T. Lee (Can) 75 69, Haotong Li (Chn) 75 69, Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 75 69, Keith Mitchell (USA) 68 76, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 73 71

145 Jason Day (Aus) 75 70, Brad Kennedy (Aus) 71 74, Alexander Noren (Swe) 74 71, Carlos Ortiz (Mex) 75 70

146 Darren Clarke 71 75, Cole Hammer (USA) 75 71, Matt Kuchar (USA) 74 72, Joe Long 73 73, Thomas Detry (Bel) 72 74

147 Jaco Ahlers (Rsa) 68 79, Sam Bairstow 75 72, Christoffer Bring (Den) 72 75, Romain Langasque (Fra) 74 73, Joost Luiten (Ned) 76 71, Chengtsung Pan (Tai) 71 76

148 Garrick Higgo (Rsa) 73 75, Nicholas Poppleton 75 73, Paul Waring 72 76

149 Abel Gallegos (Arg) 73 76, Ben Hutchinson 77 72, Aaron Pike (Aus) 74 75, Adam Long (USA) 72 77

150 Sam Forgan 73 77

152 Phil Mickelson (USA) 80 72

154 Daniel Croft 76 78

156 Yuki Inamori (Jpn) 75 81

157 Deyen Lawson (Aus) 80 77

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