Cameron Smiths breakthrough, Rory McIlroys disappointment and more from an epic Open Championship at St. Andrews

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ST. ANDREWS (Scotland) — Australias Cameron SmithFinally Has his major victory. Northern Ireland Rory McIlroyhe will have to wait again for his next one.

McIlroy was spoilt by Smith at the 150th edition The OpenSunday, at St. Andrews After finishing the final round four shots behind McIlroy, Norways had taken the lead. Viktor HovlandSmith had a sensational back nine. He made five consecutive birdies to score an 8-under 64, and win the Claret Jug.

Smith is only the third winner to shoot 64 or better in the final round of The Open, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Henrik Stenson(63 at Royal Troon, 2016) Greg NormanOther scores were 64 at Royal St. Georges 1993. Smiths 20 under score matches Stensons 72 hole total in 2016 for Open historys lowest score to par.

PGA Tour rookie Cameron YoungSmith was 1 shot behind McIlroy when he eagled 18th hole. McIlroy, who was trying win his fifth major title, finished third at 18 under. Since winning his last major at Valhallas 2014 PGA Championship, McIlroy has been playing eight seasons.

McIlroy can be comforted that Smith won this major. Smiths final round was one of the most memorable in major championship history. McIlroy clearly had the support of his crowd.

This is a young @McIlroyRoryFan crosses his fingers for Rory while he drives. It is too pure to put into words. #TheOpen

📺 @nbcAnd @peacockTV

— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) July 17, 2022

McIlroy played well and had a good cushion going into the back nine. He didnt have enough birdie opportunities and couldnt match Smith with pars.

Here are five observations from St. Andrews final round:

Cameron Smith has arrived

Also with Xander Schauffele, Patrick CantlaySmith was without a major championship win before Sunday, and Hovland. He is ranked sixth on the Official World Golf Ranking. He has won six times on PGA Tour and four times elsewhere in the world.

Smith had a chance Saturday to take the 54-hole lead, but his usual reliable putter let Smith down. He told reporters afterwards that The golf gods weren’t with me today.

Smith was not so fortunate on Sunday. McIlroy was now only 3 shots behind Smith when he turned the corner. Smith was 1 shot ahead by the 14th hole. He made five consecutive birdies beginning at the 10th.

Smith was one of the greatest putters in the world. He drained putts up to 5 feet on No. 10, 16 feet on No. 11, 11 feet at No. 12 and 18 feet on No. 13. Smith was able to make an 87-foot eagle shot on the par-5 14th. He tapped in for birdie, a 1-shot lead.

Smith is the only player over the past 20 years to birdie the first five holes of the back nine in the final round of a major, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Smith was almost on the 18th green, and he put the field to shame. From 75 feet, Smith putted to 2ft and made his eighth birdie.

He was the first player to win his first major at St. Andrews after overcoming a deficit in the final round, which was the result of Dick Burtons 1939 victory.

Smith arrived at the Players in March when he won $3.6million, the largest prize for a winner in PGA Tour History. Smith joins Jack Nicklaus (1978) as the fifth player who has won both the Players Championship and a major in one season. Hal Sutton (1983), Tiger Woods(2001) Martin Kaymer (2014).

McIlroys disappointment

McIlroy has had many heartaches since his victory at the 2014 PGA Championship in Valhalla. He was close to winning the Masters and The Open in 2018, and the U.S. Open, Torrey Pines in 2017. This was his ninth consecutive finish in the top 5 at majors since his last win.

McIlroys loss on Sunday, where he had a 4-shot lead at start and a 3-shot cushion by the turn, might be the most painful.

[Im]McIlroy stated that he was disappointed. Yeah, it was disappointing, but I wasnt doing much wrong. McIlroy said. It was just one of those days when I played a very controlled round of golf. Apart from capitalizing the easier holes, I did exactly what I felt I had to. It was around the turn… 9, 12 14. It would have been different if I had made the birdies from better positions.

But look, this week I was beaten. For four rounds of round golf around here, twenty-under is really impressive playing, especially to go out today and shoot 64 to get it done.

McIlroy was favored by the majority of galleries. Smith and everyone else felt like underdogs when compared to McIlroy. However, the Rory roars did not come Sunday.

McIlroy was in the second group behind Smith and made a birdie at the par-4 10th to make it 18-under. He didnt make any more birdies the rest of the way.

McIlroy missed a birdie putt at 14 feet on the 12th, and almost missed a 61-footer from the 13th. McIlroy didn’t take advantage the par-5 14th. McIlroys second shot from 248 yard was too short to the green so he putted from 18 feet on the fairway. He also had another near miss, leaving him with a disappointing par. McIlroy also had near misses at 28 feet on No. 16 and 22 feet, respectively, on No. 17.

McIlroy said, Yeah. Itll be a shame if I miss a few putts that went by. But its been an overall good week. Because of how this years been and how this year is going, I cant be too depressed. Im playing some the best golf I have ever played. Its as simple as knocking on the doors, and eventually one will be opened.

McIlroy was in the top 10 at each of the four majors this year. He was second at the Masters, eighth at PGA Championship, and tied for fifth at U.S. Open.

Hovland finished fourth at 14 under. But at the end, he keeps playing like he is, he will get one pretty soon at least, I think. Still, yeah, its tough. Its necessary to finish it.

Golfs next generation is good

Smith, 28 years old, is the sixth consecutive winner of a major by an older player than he was in his 20s. Matt Fitzpatrick(27) won U.S. Open. Justin Thomas(29) won PGA Championship and Scottie Scheffler(26) completed the Masters. Last year, Collin Morikawa(25) Winner of The Open and Jon Rahm(27) won the U.S. Open.

Take out Phil MickelsonHe won the unexpected 2021 PGA Championship victory, which made him the oldest major champion at age 50. It would be seven consecutive years. Hideki MatsuyamaAt 29 years old, won the 2021 Masters.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, players in their 20s havent won six consecutive majors since 1921 to 1923, when Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Arthur Havers and Bobby Jones combined to do it.

Cameron Young is for real

Cameron Young, a rookie PGA Tour player, was in contention throughout the week. The New Yorker shot under par in all rounds, including Sundays 7-under 65. At 19 under, he had an eagle at the par-14 18th to take solo second.

Young was tied for third at PGA Championship. This is only Youngs second appearance in those events. Morikawa won both the 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park as well as the 2021 Royal St. Georges Open.

Young stated that it hurts more to be 1 shot short. If you lose by 8, you dont really care. But, yeah, I played well [on Sunday]. I would have signed up to 65 this morning. It was incredible to watch Cameron shoot such amazing shots.

Is St. Andrews just too easy?

The R&A knew that St. Andrews, the home of golf, would be vulnerable to advanced equipment and the best players in the world, especially if the wind wasnt blowing hard off the North Sea.

The wind didn’t blow as much during the final round, so scores were very, very low. Smiths total of 20 under is the lowest Open at St. Andrews. The average score was 71.619. There were 929 birds and 29 eagles.

Schauffele stated that I think we definitely hit it too far for this course, probably, if I had to guess. Maybe its too firm. To be honest, Im not sure.

The R&A tucked the pins as well as it could, but it didnt seem to make too much of a difference.

Schauffele stated, The way that they made it difficult was quite tricky in my opinion. Some of the pins they tucked — I mean youre going for 30 feet, or 40 feet if your side is correct. You can get greedy if you try to hit the ball close. [Saturday]Some of these slopes are not topped with grass.

[Sunday]It was a lot more soft. It stayed on the ground for a while. [Saturday]There was no friction. It was almost like a USGA tournament in 15 and 16.

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