Published: 09:38, 19 July 2021
| Updated: 09:39, 19 July 2021
Open champion Collin Morikawa heaped praise on the fans at Royal St George's in Sandwich.
The 24-year-old won his second major - but his first in front of a crowd - after a faultless final round of 66 saw him finish two shots clear of Jordan Spieth.
"This is by far one of the best moments of my life," he said. "The fans have been amazing, I’m very biased being from the US but to see some of the best crowds out here I look forward to making my trip here every year (now).
"We are so honoured to be on this beautiful golf course, Royal St George's put on a great championship and to be the Champion golfer of the year gives me chills – thanks to every one."
A total of 152,330 spectators lined the Kent course during the past week, part of a government pilot scheme to assist with fans attending live sport in greater numbers.
Morikawa was indebted to their support, and appreciation of the game.
"They are some of the best fans I've ever seen," he added. "They truly understand the game. They appreciate the game. We owe them a huge thank you because they cheer us up walking up the tees.
"It's awesome. It's a great energy. Sometimes they're not smiling and waving at everyone, but I embrace it. I take it in, and I hope everyone feels that.
"When you hit a tough shot out of the rough and you hit it in the green they actually enjoy that. They enjoy tough shots. They appreciate, they applaud good shots. So to have fans, it's so good to see people back.
"I hope everyone stays safe. Obviously, that's the number one goal, but they bring so much energy. We love it. I think every single golfer this week appreciates all the fans here because it's just so much more fun to play in front of.
"You look around, every seat is packed, everywhere is packed with people. That's just what's going through my head of just enjoying those moments."
It was hard for Morikawa to fathom what he has achieved, becoming the first man to win two different majors on debut.
But he was keen to soak up the moment.
"I think when you make history - and I'm 24-years-old - it's hard to grasp, and it's hard to really take it in," said Morikawa.
"It's so hard to look back at the two short years that I have been a pro and see what I've done because I want more. I enjoy these moments and I love it, and I want to teach myself to embrace it a little more, maybe spend a few extra days and sit back and drink out of this (claret jug).
"I just want more. When you're in these moments and you truly love what you do, which I love playing golf and competing against these guys, these are the best moments ever because the nerves push you to just be a better person.
"The Open is going to be part of my life the rest of my life no matter what happens. To be a part of that history, it's awesome. To hear Champion Golfer of the Year, chills."