SANDWICH, England (Reuters) - Collin Morikawa has been making waves in his fledgling golf career and he was doing it again at Royal St George's on Friday in his first British Open.
The 24-year-old American, who won last year's PGA Championship, struck a series of pinpoint iron shots to pick up seven birdies in a sublime second-round 64 and open up a three-stroke lead on the field.
"I was just sticking to what I'm doing," Morikawa told reporters. "Yesterday I thought I played pretty well and I just tried to keep doing the same things. When I am on the fairway with an eight or nine iron I feel very comfortable."
His only blemish was a bogey at the 15th hole where he failed to sink a six-foot par putt and an eight-footer lipped out on the final green to deny Morikawa a course record-equalling 63.
Morikawa was playing only his second major when he won the 2020 PGA Championship at the age of 23, shooting a final-round 64 to become the third youngest player to win the tournament.
"Every major championship is important. I see them as stars and obviously they are the tournaments we want to win," added Morikawa, who finished at nine under par on 131, tied for the second-best 36-hole score in British Open history.
"Everything about them is different, they are bigger and there are more people around. But for me I just try to figure out what I need to do to get round the course."
Morikawa turned professional in 2019 and won his sixth tournament on the way to making 22 consecutive cuts, the second longest streak at the start of a career after Tiger Woods with 25.
He played in last week's Scottish Open to prepare for his British Open debut and although he finished a lowly 71st, he found the experience invaluable.
"I learned so much for this week like the way the ball sits on the fairway and the course set-up," he said. "It was huge for me to see that."
(Reporting by Ed Osmond, editing by Toby Davis)