Why Brandel Chamblee picked Collin Morikawa to win the Open — five days ago

collin morikawa

Collin Morikawa's ballstriking stats encourged Brandel Chamblee to pick him as the winner before the tournament started.

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Collin Morikawa’s second major championship victory at Royal St. George’s — in his Open Championship debut! — was a surprise to many, but not Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee.

In fact, Chamblee picked Morikawa as his favorite to win the tournament during Golf Central’s “Live from the Open” show on the Wednesday before the Open began.

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“This golf course has a darn good record at picking the best ballstriker in the game,” Chamblee said. “It did it eons ago with Harry Vardon and Henry Cotton. It certainly did it with Greg Norman in 1993. It’s likely going to do it again this week. Collin Morikawa is the best ballstriker in the game. Since strokes gained metrics came about in 2004, there’s only been one player who’s ever finished a season gaining more than a stroke and a half over his peers with his iron play: 1.5, that’s the number.”

Chamblee then referred to a strokes gained graphic, which featured notable seasons in terms of the strokes gained: approach metric.

strokes gained stats
Golf Channel

“If you look at that, Tiger Woods did it in 2006. You see who was second: Adam Scott,” Chamblee continued. “Ernie Els was second to Tiger Woods in 2007 — incidentally Tiger won the Open in 2006. In 2013 it was Stewart Cink. Look at the difference in there. And why that is notable is because Collin Morikawa, like Tiger Woods, is picking up more than a stroke and a half over his companions, or his peers, with his iron play. And there’s a huge difference. Collin Morikawa is also, unlike Tiger, an extremely straight driver. He was second in fairways hit at the PGA, second in fairways hit at the U.S. Open. And week in and week out, it just does not disappoint him. He just needs to putt average. And he will, like Ben Curtis, win the very first Open Championship that he plays in.”

A savvy prediction indeed! As it turned out, Morikawa’s putting was better than average, and ended up being his most impressive statistic of the week. He led the field (along with Ian Poulter and Jazz Janewattananond) with an average of 27.75 putts per round. By contrast, runner-up Jordan Spieth ranked 6th, with an average of 28.25. Louis Oosthuizen was 14th, with an average of 29.

You can check out Chamblee’s full remarks below.

Golf.com Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.