Collin Morikawa winning the 149th Open Championship was a historic feat that puts his name in the record books alongside no one else. The 24-year-old American became the first golfer to win two major championships on his first attempt.
Morikawa finished first 15 under par, two strokes ahead of second-placed Jordan Spieth. While history was made at the Open, perhaps even more fantastic is the impact Morikawa has on the game of golf as a whole.
Golf has undergone a revolution dating back to the beginning of Tiger Woods’ career. It has become even more prevalent with the emergence of golfers such as Rory Mcilroy, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Bryson DeChambeau – all of whom are major champions.
This revolution is the increased development of power and striking distance. The four aforementioned champions rank in the top 20 of the PGA Tour in terms of average driving distance – DeChambeau (1st), Mcilroy (2nd), Johnson (7th) and Koepka (15th).
To add to this list, the other major champions Gary Woodland, Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm also rank in the top 20.
The four actors that have been highlighted above, however, are perhaps the most important to mention when looking at the topic. Mcilroy, Johnson, and Koepka are all major champions on multiple occasions. DeChambeau is only one major champion, but took golf by storm because of his physical development in order to hit the ball much further than anyone else.
What you can see here is that a pattern has started to emerge – those who can hit the ball farther, while of course having amazing full play, earn more majors than those who can’t hit it. as far.
The bottom line though, is that all of the golfers that have been mentioned so far are phenomenal at what they do. Get away from them a bit, they are all very complete and solid golfers. However, it certainly helps when you can bomb a drive up to a pitching wedge or 9 iron from the set.
Leave Collin Morikawa in the conversation and he seems to be completely against this trend. Morikawa ranks 114th in average driving distance.
If you follow the PGA Tour or even just watched the Open, you would have been amazed at Morikawa’s ability when he has iron in his hand. He is an absolute wizard when he plays punches with his irons. If you need proof to believe me, it’s here:
Morikawa ranks 1st in terms of percentage of greens touched in regulation and also ranks 1st for strokes gained as they approach the green. To put it simply, Morikawa is the best iron player on the Tour and he just showed it by winning his second major.
But why is it so important, not only for Morikawa and his goals to win tournaments, but also for golf?
The PGA has put together some fantastic statistics to look at all aspects of golfers’ games. Another stat that they use is driving accuracy and I’m just going to go over some of the names I’ve mentioned before.
In terms of driving precision, Jon Rahm ranks 65th, Dustin Johnson (131st), Brooks Koepka (164th), Rory Mcilroy (178th) and Bryson DeChambeau (193rd). It’s amazing to see these rankings – five of the top twenty golfers in terms of average driving distance all rank outside the top 64 in terms of ride accuracy. By the way, many other top 20 golfers for driving distance also rank outside of the top 64 for driving precision.
Collin Morikawa was not mentioned as ranked outside the top 64. He doesn’t even rank outside the top 50, top 25 or top 15. Morikawa ranks 13th.
Golfers basically want to hit the ball as far as possible while having fantastic technique. However, when looking for increased distance and power, they inevitably create a compromise with their technique. This has led them to become more inaccurate.
Morikawa zigzagged as many did. Instead of seeking to start his practices over 300 or 315 yards and more, he has completely prioritized removing all the risks associated with this style of play. Instead, he emphasizes finding the fairway because he knows his technical game with his irons is much better than anyone else.
I don’t want to take anything away from Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson or Rory Mcilroy. All of them have done fantastic things in golf and their methods have proven to be very effective.
With the success of a certain style comes the reproduction or copying of it. This is where golf has a problem. Of the top 20 golfers in terms of average driving distance, eight are under the age of 27. Of those eight, only Jon Rahm ranks in the top 100 in terms of handling precision.
Of the top 20 players in terms of driving distance, only Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm rank in the top 20 in terms of greens in regulation.
Switching to punching power has the results to back it up. Several big winners over the past 5-10 years have ranked among the top in terms of driving distance. But this change has an impact on the overall quality of golfers’ games.
Imprecise driving is the most destructive aspect of golfing. Should we really encourage future golfers that hitting the ball farther is the priority over precision?
Personally, I think Collin Morikawa is a blessing for golf. He is gorgeous to look at and what makes him even better is that he has shown everyone that he can support himself with the fourteen clubs he wears. Can the same be said of DeChambeau, Koepka or Johnson?