Debutant Collin Morikawa surges into Open Championship lead

American Collin Morikawa made light of his Open inexperience to storm into the lead on the second day of the 149th Championship at Royal St George’s.

The 24-year-old is making his debut in the event, only his second tournament on European soil after last week’s Scottish Open, but he looked at home under brightening skies and softening winds at the Sandwich links.

Six birdies in his first 12 holes catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard at nine under, three better than first-round leader and 2010 champion Louis Oosthuizen, out later in the day, and top in the clubhouse Daniel Van Tonder.

The last debutant to win on his Open debut was Ben Curtis in 2003, coincidentally at Royal St George’s in 2003.

He did that from 396th in the world. Morikawa, who also won the 2020 US PGA on his debut in that event, was ranked sixth coming into this week.

However, his form in Scotland – where he finished joint-71st with just one sub-70 round – gave no hint of what was to play out on Friday.

Morikawa covered the front nine in 31, the highlight being a brilliant approach to 18 inches at the par-four ninth, and back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12 opened up a gap at the top of the leaderboard.

Rory McIlroy juggles his putter
Rory McIlroy started his second round with two bogeys to leave him with plenty of work to do (David Davies/PA)

The closest players to him out on the course – compatriot Tony Finau, England’s Tommy Fleetwood and German Marcel Siem – were six shots behind at three under.

There were other players who needed to make significant moves just to ensure they made the cut for the weekend.

Rory McIlroy began at level par only to bogey his first two holes and although he clawed one back with a birdie at the fourth there was still plenty of work to do.