Cam Smith breaks Tiger Woods' record to claim 150th Open at St Andrews

Australian produces stunning final round as Rory McIlroy falls short again

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Australian Cam Smith won the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews after a stunning final round saw him overhaul overnight leader Rory McIlroy in the final few holes for his first major title.

McIlroy held a two-shot lead midway through the final round 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.

American Cameron Young made a brilliant eagle on the 18th in his closing 65 to force Smith to hole from two feet for his final birdie, leaving McIlroy needing his own eagle to force a four-hole play-off.

However, the 33-year-old was unable to produce a moment of magic and had to settle for a par that meant Smith could celebrate an extraordinary victory at the Home of Golf.

"What a week - I'm going to fall apart here I know. I want to thank the team here for all their hard work, and this one makes it worth it," said Smith after receiving the Claret Jug.

"To the R&A - a fantastic week, to St Andrews and everyone involved - it was absolutely awesome out there. The course was exactly how an Open championship should be played.

"Lastly to you guys the fans - I had a lot of support out there, especially the Aussie guys. You guys really kept me going out there. Seemed like that there was a lot of you and you kept me plugging away. This one's for Oz."

McIlroy and Ryder Cup team-mate Viktor Hovland began the day four shots clear of the chasing pack after matching third rounds of 66, with Hovland the first to stumble as he three-putted the fourth from long range.

An errant drive then meant Hovland was unable to reach the par-five fifth in two, but McIlroy easily found the putting surface with a towering iron shot and two-putted for his first birdie of the day to move two ahead.

Smith, who had covered the front nine in 34, birdied the 10th and 11th to briefly close within one of McIlroy, only for the Northern Irishman to respond immediately.

Although he had driven the green on the 10th, McIlroy was closer to the flag on the eighth on the massive shared green, but coolly two-putted from 125 feet.

Smith made it three birdies in a row after driving the green on the par-four 12th and when he also holed from 18 feet on the 13th, McIlroy had company again at the top of the leaderboard.

An inspired Smith then took the outright lead by extending his birdie streak to five by two-putting from the back of the green on the par-five 14th, something which proved beyond McIlroy in the group behind.

McIlroy was unable to convert his long birdie putt on the 17th as Smith putted up from short of the 18th green to set up a tap-in birdie, before playing partner Young holed from 15 feet for an eagle.

Smith calmly converted his birdie putt and looked on as McIlroy was unable to deny him and claim an overdue fifth major.

McIlroy, asked by NBC to describe how he was feeling, responded: "Just disappointment I guess. I had a great opportunity to add to that major tally and I didn't quite get it done. I didn't feel like I did many things wrong, but the putter went cold on me throughout the round.

"I got beaten by the better player this week. To shoot 64 to win an Open Championship at St Andrews is one hell of a showing, so hats off to Cam, he's had an unbelievable week."

Updated: July 17, 2022, 7:31 PM
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