Jug Half Full?

What makes a champion?

Many of the qualities were on show yesterday at Royal St George’s Golf Club. At the age of 24, Collin Morakawa won the British Open on his first appearance in the event. It replicates his achievement in winning the 2020 US PGA at the first time of asking. He has now won two majors on debut, and two of the first eight majors of his career. No other player has done that in almost a century. For comparison Phil Mickelson, a giant of the modern game, didn’t win the first of his six Majors until his 47th attempt. Collin Morakawa is clearly a man who seizes his opportunities. How?

Maintaining a positive mindset and visualising a path to success gives us an edge when it matters most. Yesterday afternoon Morakawa pulled clear of the field with a string of birdies, then defended the lead with audacious “up and down” par saves at holes where other contenders seemed to accepted that they would lose ground. Morakawa simply refused to accept a negative outcome. At crucial moments, he stood over one difficult 10-20 foot putt after another. Putts that commentators and other players viewed as outside chances that he could be forgiven for missing. He holed every one.

Positivity can turn defeat into a platform for victory. Last week Morakawa had his first taste of links golf at the Scottish Open. He tied for 71st place, 15 shots behind the winner. It was his worst finish as a professional golfer, but in interviews he insisted on seeing the positives, and viewing this difficult experience as valuable preparation for the Open.  

When you have a system to fall back on, of course, positive self-talk means far more. Endless hours of practice have given Morakawa a swing that purists love. Everything, from the shoulder turn to the flexibility of his wrists, is geared towards consistent, economical, repeatable ball striking. When you have a system that delivers economy and consistency under pressure, you can talk about your jug being half-full with conviction.

Herb Elliott, the legendary Australian middle distance athlete, once said that the last ten minutes before a race was the critical period, and the person who convinced themselves they were going to win at that point probably would. But Elliott’s confidence was built on hours of focused training that developed his stamina and finishing speed. His system – hours and hours of training that enhanced his natural talent – meant that no one could set a pace that would drop him, and no one could outsprint him in the final push to the finish line. Elliott was a specialist at 1500 metres and the mile. He never lost a race over either distance.   

Two months ago we predicted great things for Collin Morakawa as he prepared to defend his US PGA title. He managed a creditable top ten finish so that prediction was a little wide of the mark, but his Open win backed up our judgement of his talent and mental strength.

Are you driven by purpose? And do you have a system of working that gives you a platform to see and create positive outcomes? We know Collin Morakawa’s answers. Yesterday he spoke to the world and told all of us who he is, and now he’s heading back to Las Vegas with the coveted Claret Jug. It will be at least half full.