Australia’s Cameron Smith produced a stunning final round to capture the 150th Open Championship and inflict more major misery on a shell-shocked Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy held a two-shot lead midway through the final round at St Andrews and carded a bogey-free closing 70, but that was not enough to end his eight-year drought in the game’s biggest tournaments.
Smith, who held the halfway lead before falling four off the pace with a third-round 73, fired eight birdies – including five in a row from the 10th – to card his second 64 of the week and finish 20 under par, beating the previous best of 19 under on the Old Course set by Tiger Woods in 2000.
Shot of the day
Smith’s one-stroke victory owed as much to his remarkable par save on the 17th as it did to his putting display. The Australian’s approach to the Road Hole, the most difficult on the course for the last three days, finished behind the infamous bunker. He had no way of going for the flag so putted up around the bowl of the trap to about eight feet and holed for a four. A dropped shot there would have opened the door for the chasing Rory McIlroy.
Round of the day
Cameron Smith – 64
Smith, starting four shots back, crucially did not drop a shot all day. After just two birdies on the front nine he sprang to life after the turn with a remarkable run of five successive gains – the longest for a player in the final round of the Open in 21 years – which turned the tide in his favour. A birdie at the last realistically took McIlroy’s chances of forcing a play-off out of the Northern Irishman’s hands.
Tweet of the day
Statistic of the day
Since records began, McIlroy is the only player to hold the 54-hole lead at a major, hit every green in regulation in the final round and not win.
The 495-yard par-four 17th played as the toughest hole for the third day running, yielding four birdies, with 27 bogeys and 13 double bogeys or worse, resulting in a scoring average of 4.37.
The driveable 570-yard par-five fifth. There were six eagles, 45 birdies and just seven bogeys, for a scoring average of 3.24.
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