Defending the Open champion Collin Morikawa admits it “sucked” to have to hand back the Claret Jug, but hopes doing so can spark his season into life.
Morikawa won his second major title at Royal St George’s last year and gets to keep a replica version of the Claret Jug for life, but the real thing was returned to the R&A clubhouse on Monday ahead of this week’s 150th Open at St Andrews.
“It sucked. It really did,” Morikawa said. “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.
“I am looking for something. We’re at the end of our season. We’re at the fourth major. Play-offs 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.
“I’ve had a couple of second-place finishes, and they’ve kind of been come-from-behind second-place finishes where I played really well on the final day.
Collin Morikawa during a press conference ahead of the 150th Open Championship (Jane Barlow/PA)
“But I need to do a better job Thursday through Saturday to give myself a shot at trying to close out a tournament.”
Morikawa freely admits he is more interested in creating history than remembering it and was given a helpful lesson on the origins of the Open Championship by former champion Sandy Lyle during a practice round ahead of this year’s Masters.
But the 25-year-old from Los Angeles appears to have become instantly enamoured with the Old Course after getting his first experience of the venue at the weekend following a missed cut in the Scottish Open.
“I love it. I can see why guys love it,” he said. “I can see how special this week can be. I can see how the course can play a million different ways, depending on the weather.
“Now that I know what it’s like to have the Claret Jug for a year, there’s nothing like it. It’s a really special year. Even though you won that tournament a year ago, it’s going to be in your history for the rest of your life. And it’s pretty cool.
“I think trying to defend this week at The 150th at St Andrews would be even more special.
“You’ve got to embrace the history. You have to embrace 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.”