Cameron Smith produced the round of his life at the perfect time today to become just the fifth-ever Australian winner of the Open Championship, golf's oldest event celebrating its 150th playing.
The 28-year-old Smith shot a final-round 64 with a stunning back nine of 30 to overtake Rory McIlroy to win by a shot, securing his first-ever major at the home of golf, St Andrews.
His eight-under effort was the lowest final round to ever win The Open at St Andrews, he also eclipsed Tiger Woods’ record of 19-under from 2000 for the best winning score at the Old Course by one shot and equalled Henrik Stenson’s all-time scoring record to par – at Royal Troon in 2019 – in an Open.
Smith's win was set up by a run of five straight birdies from the 10th to the 14th as the golfing gods smiled on him and the putts began to drop.
He led by a shot coming to the final hole, and made birdie from in front of the green, finishing with a tap-in from inside a metre. But the victory was not secure until McIlroy completed the 18th hole, needing an eagle at the par-four to force a playoff. Once McIlroy's chip skidded past the hole, the honours belonged to the Australian.
Eyeing the famous claret jug that serves as the trophy for the storied championship, Smith said: "I’m definitely going to find out how many beers fit in this thing, that’s for sure.”
A product of Wantima Country Club in Brisbane, Smith has risen from winning an Australian Amateur in 2013 to become the best male player in the country and No. 6 in the world, potentially soon to be No.1.
Today, he said it was the putter that worked for him while on Saturday in his third-round 73, it had failed.
“The only difference today, was the putts were dropping," he said. I spent a little bit of time on the green last night, and just really wanted to see a few putts go in. Yeah, it turned out it was a pretty good thing to do.
“I knew my game was there. I felt really comfortable. At the end of last week, I started playing some really good golf. Yeah, I just really needed to keep doing what I was doing. I didn’t do anything wrong yesterday. It was just really one of those days.
“So I shrugged it off pretty good, hit a few putts. I just wanted to see a few putts go in. I didn’t think there was really anything wrong technically. I just wanted to see a few putts go in before I went to sleep, and that kind of put me at ease to know that it really wasn’t me, it was just kind of one of those days.
“I think that was the best thing I did all week was just to go out there and spend five minutes on the green.”
Smith joins Peter Thomson, two-time champion Greg Norman, Kel Nagle and Ian Baker-Finch as Open Championship winners, and he is the first since Norman's 1993 triumph at Royal St George's.
1 Cameron Smith 67-64-73-64--268
T15 Lucas Herbert 70-68-73-67--278
T15 Anthony Quayle 74-69-68-67--278
T15 Adam Scott 72-65-70-71--278
T21 Min Woo Lee 69-69-73-68--279
T53 Jason Scrivener 72-71-71-70--284
T53 Brad Kennedy 68-72-72-72--284
MC Ben Campbell (NZ) 74-71--145
MC Ryan Fox (NZ) 71-75--146
MC Matthew Griffin 74-72--146
MC Marc Leishman 76-74--150
MC Dimitrios Papadatos 77-74--151
MC Jediah Morgan 79-76--155
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