- The 102nd USPGA Championship may have been delayed by a few weeks by the Coronavirus crisis, and no golf-mad Californian fans were allowed into San Francisco’s Harding Park, venue for the first, ‘Major’ in over a year,’ but the battle for the giant Wanamaker Trophy proved well worth the wait.
- Local hero, the 23-year-old Los Angeles-born, University of California Berkley-educated Collin Morikawa clinched his first-ever ‘major’ title in only his second appearance in one of golf’s four, ‘Grand Slam’ events, having tied for 35th at least year’s US Open at Pebble Beach.
- It has been quite a start to the former World #1 Amateur’s professional career; inversely to Justin Rose’s 22 successive missed cuts at the start of what was to become a glittering career, Morikawa played all four rounds of his first 22 PGA TOUR events, winning his first tournament title, the Barracuda Championship, then the Workaday Open, his USPGA triumph the end of a remarkable few weeks for the rookie, and all without a single golf fan on course cheering him on.
- Also an ex US Collegiate star, Morikawa became the third youngest player to win a ‘major’ title, behind Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy, ahead, by just a few weeks of one Tiger Woods, illustrious company indeed.
- Having turned professional just over a year before his dramatic USPGA win at Harding Park, Collin Morikawa has earned US$6,856,977 in his first year in the paid ranks and has gate-crashed the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), his first ‘Major’ win taking his to #5 in the world.
- A professional for a little more than 12 months, the man from LA now needs to earn US$113,886,468 in prize money to catch up with his hero, fellow Californian Tiger Woods.
- But he’s on his way; Morikawa banked US$1.98m for his USPGA Championship win, US$1,935,000 more than Woods won – US$45,000 – for his joint 37th place in what was his 85th ‘Major,’ and his 21st USPGA Championship.
Lifting the Lid
- Collin Morikawa may have lifted the 2020 USPGA Championship and the near-US$2m first prize in his own back yard at Harding Park, San Francisco and he found himself lifting the lid on golf’s largest trophy, the Wanamaker Trophy when, within seconds of being presented with the giant silver cup he spilled the lid of the venerable trophy which stands 28-inches tall and weighs-in at a hefty 27-pounds, 12.2kg.
- But golf’s latest hot property isn’t alone in spilling the sporting spoils; just a few weeks earlier, Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dropped the FA Cup after guiding his side to victory at Wembley.
- And, in 2006, tennis star Maria Sharapova was so excited at having won the US Open, shaking the trophy vigourously above her head, the lid was dislodged, falling off and hitting the newly crowned women’s singles champion on the head.
- But perhaps the worst sports trophy mishap came in 2011 in Madrid, Spain when local team Real Madrid were on an open-top bus tour around the city, parading the priceless Copa del Rei, having earlier beaten arch-rivals Barcelona 1 – 0 in the final.
- But, cavorting with the esteemed trophy, Real skipper Sergio Ramos dropped the trophy off the front of the bus, 5m to the road below, the bus proceeding to run over the coveted cup, which required extensive – and expensive – repairs.
- 23-year-old American Collin Morikawa clinched his epic win in the rescheduled 2020 USPGA Championship courtesy of a final round 64, clinched the title with a pitch-in birdie on the 14th, followed by a stunning eagle on 16 to secure his first ‘Major’ title in what was just his 27th tournament start as a professional.
- But the ornithological references in golf date back almost a century before the young Californian was born, all emanating from the term, ‘Birdie,’ meaning a score of one-stroke under par for a particular hole, such as a three on a Par-4 or a four on a Par-5.
- The earliest use of the term dates back to a 1911 edition of US Maclean Magazine, which described a particularly fine 215-yard shot as, “A bird, straight down the course; this was subsequently traced back and attributed to an American player, AB Smith wo recounted an incident at Atlantic City Golf Club in 1903, when he struck such a fine shot – a ‘Bird’ of a shot -that the term stuck, changed through the years to become a, ‘Birdie,’ now universally known throughout golf worldwide.
- All other bird-related terms used in golf, including, ‘Eagle’ and ‘Albatross’ are derivations of the early-20thcentury ‘Birdie,’ the rarer and more exotic the bird, the rarer and more exotic the score.
Morikawa’s Low Blow
- Despite winning his first ‘major’ championship at the age of just 23 and at only his second attempt, American Collin Morikawa still managed to strike a couple of low blows to his compatriots and heroes Tiger Woods and Tom Watson.
- The two US golfing legends, with 25 more ‘Majors’ between them that the latest entrant to that elite, exclusive club had previously held the record for the lowest aggregate final two rounds in any ‘Major’ championship, 130 shots over the final 36 holes.
- But, with a 65 and a 64 in his final two rounds of his USPGA Championship victory at Harding Park in California, Morikawa set the lowest closing 36-hole score (129) in golf’s ‘Majors’ history, knocking two of the finest exponents of the game of golf off at least one of their lofty perch.
The Bogey Man
- Despite a final round without a blemish on his scorecard, eventual winner of the 2020 USPGA Championship Collin Morikawa did contrive to go over par on each of his three earlier rounds, his sensational Saturday 65 achieved despite back-to-back ‘Bogey’s’ at the 12th and 13th holes, a hammer blow that might have sunk the prospects of a lesser man.
- Indeed, the 23-year-old looked an unlikely winner after Thursday’s opening round or even the halfway point on Friday evening, two and three ‘Bogey’s respectively consigning the Californian to 33rd and 25th place at the end of each day’s play.
- That added-up to seven ‘Bogey’s in total during Morikawa’s audacious march to the USPGA Championship – his third professional victory in just over remarkable first year on Tour – but where does that most unwelcome of terms in golf, ‘Bogey,’ originate from?
- According to Robert Browning’s authoritative History of Golf published in 1955, the term dates back to 1890 when an English golf club was attempting to standardise the number of shots an, ‘Average’ golfer would be expected to take at any particular hole, and to coin a word to describe anything above that ‘Par’ score.
- The Secretary of that English golf club, a Dr. Browne was testing his new-fangled system in a match against another club when he exclaimed to his opponent, a Major Charles Wellman, ‘That player of yours is a regular bogey man,’ thought to be a reference to the chorus of a popular Edwardian vaudeville song, ‘Hush, hush, here comes the bogey man,’ a reference to an ancient mythological Scottish ogre who, it is said, brought nothing but trouble.
- For 50-years, a, ‘Bogey man’ was a golfer in search of a standard ‘Par,’ score until midway through the 20thcentury, the term ‘Bogey’ found itself adapted and adopted to mean one shot over par of any particular hole, a ‘Double-bogey’ or Triple-bogey, one or two shots worse off.
Collin All the Shots
- Remarkably, when Collin Morikawa won at Harding Park he became the first-ever golfer with the Christian name Collin or Colin to win one of golf’s four ‘Major’ championships, a first in 454 combined stagings of the quarter of events comprising the Grand Slam.
- One other ‘Colin’ stands out as the, ‘Nearly man,’ Scotland’s irascible Colin Montgomerie contrived to finish runner-up in four ‘Majors,’ the US Open (twice, in 1997 and 2006), the Open Championship, behind only Tiger Woods at St. Andrews in 2005 and, most notably, at the 1995 USPGA Championship at Riviera Country Club when he had one hand on the Wanamaker Trophy
- Montgomerie had birdied the final three holes of the Riviera Country in the final round, to tie Australian Steve Elkington on 17-under-par – then a record low score in a ‘Major’ championship – but on the first sudden-death playoff hole, after being in far better position after two shots, Montgomerie missed his short putt, Elkington holed from 35 feet to claim the title leaving the Scot with the most unwanted moniker in professional golf, ‘The best player NEVER to win a ‘Major,’ which he holds to this day.
Mostly American, Part Asian, 100% Champion
- Although much of Asia may have been claiming victory in the 2020 USPGA Championship – 11-years-on from when Korean YE Yang broke the continent’s ‘Majors’ duck when he outplayed a seemingly invincible Tiger Woods for the same title at Hazeltine National – the winner of this year’s Wanamaker Trophy considers himself all-American rather than the mix of Asian stock he was born into.
- Collin Morikawa is the elder son of Blaine and Debbie Morikawa, of both Japanese and Chinese heritage, born in Los Angeles, California on 6th February 1997 and, having spent considerable vacation time with his paternal grandparents in Maui, Hawaii, earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of California, Berkeley.
- But his Asian credentials are strengthened by his long-term relationship with Chinese girlfriend, Katherine Zhu, herself a top-class US Collegiate golfer; should the pair ever get around to having children, then what would be the odds on their progeny winning a men’s or women’s ‘Major’?
USPGAgain & Again
- Morikawa set several records by winning the rescheduled season’s first, ‘Major’ most notably taking the title on debut, winning one of the four Grand Slam events at only his second time of asking and, at just 23-years-old, equaling the record as the youngest winner of the Wanamaker Trophy.
- The Californian joins an illustrious group including Rory McIlroy, Tiger and Jack Nicklaus, all players to have won the PGA Championship at 23-years-old and also becomes the fastest player to win a ‘Major’ after turning pro since Woods won the 1997 Masters.
- But the new world #5 has some way to go before breaking the USPGA record for the total number of times a player has lifted the giant Wanamaker Trophy aloft; Jack Nicklaus holds the record with five USPGA titles in total, alongside Walter Hagen who probably shades it for the most consecutive victories, in 1924, 1925, 1926 and 1927, back in the day when what had traditionally been the season’s final ‘Major’ was a match play format, changing to stroke play in 1958.
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