Smith rallies to beat McIlroy at British Open – The North State Journal

Cameron Smith holds the jug of claret after winning the British Open on the Old Course in St. Andrews in Scotland on Sunday. (Gerald Herbert/AP Photo)

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press

ANDREWS, Scotland — The stage at St. Andrews was set for Rory McIlroy.

The show belonged to Cameron Smith, just like that pitcher of silver claret he won in a stunning Sunday at the British Open with the best closing round the Old Course had ever seen.

Smith was four strokes behind at the start as a record crowd eagerly watched McIlroy end a week of celebrations at the 150th Open in style. He was three behind when he made the turn.

And then the plucky Aussie with his magic putter ran five straight birdies to take the lead, watched a nervous putt around the rim of the infamous Road Hole bunker to save par and finished with two 80-foot putts for a birdie for an 8-under 64.

“Winning an open championship in itself will likely be a golfer’s highlight of their career,” Smith said. “To do it around St. Andrews I think is just amazing.”

Just like his golf.

In the previous 29 times golf’s oldest championship was held at St. Andrews, no winner had ever closed with a 64. Smith finished 20-under 268, a record score for the Old Course and corresponding to the tied lowest score in any major.

“I was beaten by the best player this week. Going out and shooting 64 to win the Open Championship at St. Andrews is a hell of a performance. Hats off to Cam,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy hit every green in regulation and put them all in half – two were birdies, the rest were pars – for a 70 that left him in third place and having to wait nearly nine months before he could try. to end his drought in the majors which is now at a full eight years.

Smith won by one stroke over Cameron Young, who landed a 15-foot eagle putt on the final hole to very briefly level the lead.

It wasn’t enough, and McIlroy couldn’t muster anything either.

McIlroy couldn’t make an early putt. He couldn’t reach it close enough late. His last good chance was a 15-foot birdie attempt on the dangerous Road Hole at No. 17, and he just missed on the left. McIlroy needed an eagle to tie him up, and his chip through the Valley of Sin didn’t stand a chance.

Smith won for the third time this year, all on entirely different courses – the generous fairways of Kapalua, the visually intimidating water on TPC Sawgrass and the oldest links in the world with its twin greens and stone bunkers. jar.

He beat the world No. 1 player (Jon Rahm) in Kapalua. He beat the best golf course in the Players Championship. And he had to overcome a four-stroke deficit against a huge crowd favorite to win his first major.

Even with the pitcher of silver burgundy in his hands, it was hard to believe.

“Every name out there, every player that’s been at the top of their game has won this championship,” Smith said. “It’s pretty cool to be there. It really hasn’t sunk yet. I don’t think it will be for a few weeks. Yeah, it’s just unreal.

Smith is the first Australian to win at St. Andrews since Kel Nagle in 1960, when he edged out a rising American star named Arnold Palmer, the people’s choice.

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