This time last year, Collin Morikawa was one of a whole crew of heralded but untested young players just making their way onto the big stage. Now, he's put himself into position to win his second major in less than a year.
Using spectacular iron play and a calm precision rare in someone playing in their first Open Championship, Morikawa seized control of the tournament Friday with a spectacular 6-under 64. Combined with his 3-under round on Thursday, Morikawa entered the weekend with a three-stroke clubhouse lead on the field.
Morikawa credited a trip to the Scottish Open last week with his improved iron play on the links.
"I’m able to be fully committed," he said earlier this week. "I feel confident with my irons again that I just didn’t have last week. It’s a learning process."
He learned the ways of the wind and the turf quickly enough that he threatened the all-time major scoring record of 62. After seven birdies, a late bogey on 15 killed those chances, but he still finished with enough momentum that his odds to win dropped to +250 from a pre-tournament mark of +3300, according to BetMGM.
The two opening rounds bode well for Morikawa's chances at Royal St. George's. Twitter golf stats maestro Justin Ray noted after Morikawa's round that since 1900, 41.2 percent of Open champions were in the lead or co-lead after 36 holes.
If he were to win on Sunday, he'd become the first player in history to win his debuts at two different majors. Last year, he won in his debut performance at the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Earlier this year, he finished T8 at the PGA and T4 at the U.S. Open.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at email@example.com.
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