St.Andrews, Scotland – All of the stars were aligned for golf’s hero and biggest present-day star Rory McIlroy to claim its “Holy Grail” at the 150th Open Championship at the home of golf – St.Andrews Old Course. Both McIlroy and Norway’s Viktor Hovland were tied at 16 under par after 54 holes heading into Sunday’s final round.
The 33-year-old Ulsterman, the crowd favorite all-week got off to a sluggish start, posting a one under par 35, and could only muster one birdie coming in to shoot a final round 70. Meanwhile, one group ahead Australian Cam Smith was red hot with the flatstick, the 28-year-old from Brisbane lit up the Old Course with eight birdies on Sunday, shooting a brilliant, bogey-free 64 that put him at 20 under par and gave him a one-stroke victory over the rookie Cameron Young (65). McIlroy finished in third place at 18 under par playing steady golf, but producing no fireworks on the inward nine.
“The putter just went a little cold today compared to the last three days,” McIlroy said. “Look, I got beaten by a better player this week,” McIlroy said. “Twenty under par for four rounds of golf around here is really, really impressive playing, especially to go out and shoot 64 today to get it done.”
Smith’s 20-under-par total (268) set a record for an Open at St. Andrews, surpassing Tiger’s 19-under mark when he won the Open at the Old Course in 2000. “That’s pretty cool; I didn’t know that,” Smith said. “I think to win an Open Championship in itself is probably going to be a golfer’s highlight in their career. To do it around St. Andrews, I think, is just unbelievable. This place is so cool. I love the golf course. I love the town. All the hard work we’ve done the last couple years is really starting to pay off,” Smith said. “And this one definitely makes it worth it.”
Cameron Young, playing with Smith, finished with an eagle at the last that put him briefly in a tie for the lead at 19 under before Smith holed the short putt that got him to 20 under par.
McIlroy had one last chance to force a playoff but had to make eagle on 18, but his tee shot came up short of the green. When his second shot skipped past the hole, Smith became the 150th Open champion.