Golf-British Open champion Morikawa hands over Claret Jug: ‘It sucked’

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) – Golf’s oldest championship is steeped in tradition, and for Collin Morikawa, returning the Claret Jug ahead of his title defense at this week’s British Open is one custom he could do without.

Morikawa’s name was etched into the Claret Jug after his 2021 victory and had the famous silver trophy in his possession for a year until finally having to hand it over this week in exchange for a replica he can keep.

“It sucked. It really did,” Morikawa told reporters during his pre-tournament news conference on Monday. “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.”

Morikawa proved last year that experience playing coastal links golf courses may be overrated as he delivered a flawless final round to win the British Open by two strokes at Royal St. George’s on his first attempt.

He returns for the 150th edition of the British Open, which is being played on the Old Course at St. Andrews, and said he is all business after having already spent time soaking up the rich atmosphere at the home of golf.

“I did that all on Sunday when I got here, and I’m over it. I have to. That’s the only way I can focus on this tournament,” said world number eight Morikawa.

“You’ve got to embrace the history. You have to embrace everything. Everything that has happened before us. But I’m here to win a tournament. I’m here to play some really good golf.”

Morikawa had top-five finishes at this year’s Masters and U.S. Open but is not at the same level he was a year ago and is coming off a missed cut at last week’s Scottish Open and may have a steep learning curve this week.

“This course takes a little extra learning and memorisation because there are so many blind shots and you’re aiming at so many towers, it just kind of meshes into one,” said Morikawa.

“When it comes down to it, it’s about taking really good notes… hit it here, trust that, hit a good shot, and go from there.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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