After an adjustment, Collin Morikawa takes control of 2021 British Open with 64 at Royal St. George’s

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Playing links golf for the first time in last week’s Scottish Open, world No. 4 Collin Morikawa was befuddled by the sand-based, firm turf and tied for 71st.

“I had to adjust,” he said.

Turns out it didn’t take one of the elite ball-strikers in the game long to do just that. After changing irons to improve his contact through the turf heading into the 149th British Open, Morikawa opened with a 3-under-par 67 Thursday and then went all scorched earth on the links of Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England, in Friday’s second round.

Pummeling the flagstick from near and far with spectacular iron play – he’s regularly referred to as Iron Byron – Morikawa threatened to equal or break the record for the lowest round ever shot in a men’s major before signing for a 6-under-par 64 to move to the top of the famous yellow leaderboards at 9 under.

He is three shots clear of the field halfway through the second round.

Morikawa fell two shots short of equaling the major record of 62 set by Branden Grace in the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale. Morikawa also fell one shot short of the tournament record at Royal St. George’s established in 1993 by Nick Faldo and Payne Stewart.

“I’m able to be fully committed. I feel confident with my irons again that I just didn’t have last week. It’s a learning process,” he said this week.

Morikawa made four birdies in five holes in the middle of the round and was 7 under through 14 before making his lone bogey on the par-4 15th, when an errant drive set up a rare missed green in regulation.

Morikawa also missed two shortish birdie attempts, including on the 18th hole.

Morikawa is in position to become the first to win two different debut majors. In 2020, he won the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco in his first crack at the Wanamaker Trophy.

Morikawa, 24, has seven top-10s this year, including his fourth PGA Tour title coming in the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship and a runner-up finish in the Memorial. He also tied for eighth in the PGA Championship and tied for fourth in the U.S. Open.