scheduled tribe. ANDREWES, Scotland ( Associated Press) – The stage was set for Rory McIlroy in St Andrews.
The moment ended as Cameron Smith took the British Open silver jug on Sunday after the best final round on record in Old Course history.
Smith hit four strokes behind the lead. Everyone was eager to see McIlroy end his drought at the big events and complete a weeklong celebration in the birthplace of golf by hosting the 150th edition of the tournament. Smith was three shots behind going into the second half of the course.
With his magical putter, the Aussie stole the limelight by opening the back nine and then striking five consecutive birdies at the end.
“Winning an Open should be the highlight of a golfer’s career,” Smith said. “It’s wonderful to do this in St Andrews.”
And he had golf too.
Golf’s oldest tournament has been held in St Andrews for the past 29 times, with no champion having managed to finish with 64. Smith’s final score was 268, 20 under par, an Old Course record and one who emulated the lowest scoring in all four majors.
“I was beaten by someone better this week. Going out there and scoring 64 to win the Open at St. Andrews is mind-blowing. Hats off to Cam,” McIlroy said.
Smith overtook Cameron Young, who struck an eagle from 15 feet on the final hole and briefly tied for the lead.
It didn’t kill him, and neither did everything McIlroy tried to do.
McIlroy was quickly vague about his put. He couldn’t get close enough to the last few holes. His best chance came when he attempted a birdie from 15 feet on the 17th, narrowly surviving by going wide to the left.
Smith, who saved the draw with a 10-foot putt in 17th, was ahead of the 18th green to hit the punt. From 80 feet, he dropped the ball in an unbeatable position and received a birdie that left him with a cumulative 268 strokes, 20 under par.
Smith emulated the leading par record, most recently set by Dustin Johnson at the 2020 edition of the Masters, held in November.
McIlroy needed an eagle to match him and his chip fell short. He failed to attempt a birdie and finished with a 70 which placed him third.
Smith is the first Australian since Kyle Nagle in 1960 to win at St Andrews, when he defeated American Arnold Palmer.