By Bernie McGuire in the Bahamas.
Potential new World No. 1 Collin Morikawa is already counting the days to next July’s defence of his Open Championship title.
Morikawa has confirmed he will contest the Genesis Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club before heading to the Home of Golf for the 150th anniversary Open. It will be a first time the 24-year-old now double major champion will have played the Old Course at St. Andrews
Morikawa said: “I’m looking forward so much to teeing-up at St. Andrews. No matter what tournament you head to as defending champion is great but to be there at St. Andrews, playing the Old Course on the occasion of the 150th Open, what could be better than that?
“Obviously, I am going to enjoy and embrace everything about St. Andrews as I’ve never been there but I still have to focus and try and successfully defend the Claret Jug.
“I want to win my second Open and I will not be going to the Open next year as though it’s a good-bye to the Claret Jug.
“It’s already been, what in nearly five months since I won at Royal St. Georges, an awesome honour to be named ‘The Champion Golfer of the Year’, so it’s all about getting ready and how you prepare for that and then balance that knowing you are the defending champion, and that you are in a very historic place while at the same time you’re there to try and play your best golf.”
And Morikawa was asked by Irish Golfer Mag the experience that awaits of walking over the famed Swilcan Bridge that has been crossed by the greats of the game including Old Tom Morris to Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and then for a first time in 1995 by a then 19-year-old Tiger Woods.
Morikawa said: “There are some places around the world, and St. Andrews is right-up there, where it is historic every time you take a step in that certain location wherever it may be.
“The Swilcan Bridge is one of those very special places and that is a spot where you are forever going to remember the first time you passed by it and then walked over it.
“Then there’s the former champions in the R&A clubhouse that I have been informed is hosted on Tuesday night by Mr. Slumbers (CEO of the R&A), so it’s going to make for one very special week.”
Morikawa also revealed people have been ‘freaked out’ at the sight of the most famous trophy in all of golf.
He said: “Everyone I’ve shown the Claret Jug to are just freaked out by it because of the history of the trophy. They’ve all watched coverage of The Open and the names of those who have been presented with the trophy.
“The names on the Claret Jug are the greatest players to have played the game and it’s already inspiring and motivating to see my name now on the Claret Jug.”
And have you been made aware of the ‘mistake’ on the trophy for the 1947 entry when Fred Daly won at Hoylake, though it’s spelt ‘Holylake’ on the jug.
He said: “No, I haven’t noticed that so I make sure to check it out next time I’m looking at the Jug.”
So, what has been in the Claret Jug since your win at Sandwich?
Morikawa said laughing: “Liquids. A lot of liquids.”