Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the Hawk & Purk podcast, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.
Who will finish his career with more major titles, Jordan Spieth or Collin Morikawa?
Hawk's take: Simple math says Spieth, who still holds a 3-2 advantage, but I’m just dumb enough to argue with basic arithmetic. Morikawa has picked up both his majors since last August; Spieth has won just one tournament of any size (2021 Texas Open) in the last four years. Having made a bunch of noise with his sudden string of high finishes earlier this season, Spieth still has just that lone victory to show for it. Against a weak field, no less, whereas all three of Morikawa’s triumphs in 2020-21 have come against elite gatherings of premium players.
The longer I ponder this particular question, the easier it becomes to answer. Although Morikawa is the one accused of struggling with his short putting, Spieth’s repeated misses inside 5 feet have been costing him valuable leaderboard position for a while now. He’s the best putter in the game from long distance, his bunker play and chipping almost impeccable. but overall, Spieth clearly is the more flawed player of the two.
His ballstriking miseries have been examined ad nauseam since they first emerged in late 2017. Morikawa, meanwhile, is a surgeon with his irons, a very dependable driver who proved last week in the final round at Royal St. George’s that he’s no slouch around the greens, either. Game, set, match. Spieth is the ultimate battler with a formidable upside. The 2021 British Open champion, however, appears to be someone very special.
Purk’s take: Spieth is one major championship victory ahead of Morikawa, so it makes the most sense that the Texan has the edge in this race. The overused admonition about majors is that they are hard to win, mostly because you only get four chances a year (unlike the past 11 months when we had seven majors in a pandemic-jumbled schedule).
While Morikawa is off to a fast start, winning two majors in eight appearances, Spieth is built for the long haul, especially given his arduous road back from practically falling off the face of golf’s earth. Spieth admitted after finishing two shots behind Morikawa at the British Open to having some lingering scar tissue but that should only serve to strengthen his resolve. No one in world golf has worked harder over the last three years than Spieth, and that’s not likely to change.
Now that Spieth has returned to the heat of a major on the last nine on Sunday, which he experienced at Royal St. George’s, he is bound to have eliminated any doubt that he is properly equipped to win another of these. There are never moral victories in championship golf, but in this case for Spieth, losing could be precisely the jumping-off point to winning majors again.