Cameron Smith shoots final round 64 at St Andrews to deny Rory McIlroy in 150th Open Championship

Cameron Smith shoots final round 64 at St Andrews to deny Rory McIlroy in 150th Open Championship

Australia’s Cameron Smith produced a stunning final round to win the 150th Open Championship and inflict even more misery on a shocked Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy held a two-shot lead midway through the final round at St. Andrews and carded a 70 with no bogey, but that wasn’t enough to end his eight-year losing streak in the game’s biggest tournaments.

blacksmith, our headline tip on 28.1fired eight birdies – including five in a row from the 10th – to card his second 64 of the week and finish 20-under, the previous best of 19-under on the Old Course set by Tiger Woods in 2000 struck.

American Cameron Young made a brilliant eagle on the 18th in his last 65 to force Smith to a two-foot hole for his final birdie, requiring McIlroy to have his own eagle to force a four-hole playoff.

However, the 33-year-old failed to create a magic moment and had to settle for par which meant Smith celebrated an exceptional win at the Home of Golf.

“I’m going to fall apart here, I know it,” said an emotional Smith as he accepted the Claret Jug. “All the hard work we’ve put in over the last few years has really paid off and it’s definitely worth it.

“I thought that’s how an Open Championship should be played: tight and fast, hard pins, it was just unreal.

“Finally to you, the fans. I’ve had a lot of support out there, especially the Aussie guys, you guys really made me want to stay out there. This is for Oz.”

Speaking to Sky Sports, he added: “It’s just unreal. This place is so cool – to have the 150th Open here and walk away with the win is something I’ve dreamed of. I didn’t even know I was going to get this far. It’s just great.

“Looking at those names on the trophy and then adding mine is unreal. I’m lost for words.”

McIlroy can’t find any fireworks

McIlroy and Ryder Cup teammate Viktor Hovland started the day four strokes clear of the pursuers after passing third rounds of 66, with Hovland stumbling first as he three-putted the fourth from long range.

A faulty drive then meant Hovland was unable to get the fifth par-5 in two, but McIlroy found the putting surface easy with a towering iron shot and made two putts for his first birdie of the day, at two to come forward.

Smith, who had covered the front nine in 34, shagged 10th and 11th to close short inside one of McIlroy only for the Northern Irishman to react immediately.

Despite driving the green on the 10th, McIlroy was on the huge shared green closer to the pin on the 8th but coolly two-putted from 125 feet.

Smith made it three straight birdies after driving the green on the par 12th, and when he also holed out on the 13th from 18ft, McIlroy once again had company at the top of the leaderboard.

An inspired Smith then took the absolute lead, extending his yardie streak to five by making two putts from the back of the green on the par-5 14, which proved to be over McIlroy in the group behind.

Smith looked set to fall victim to an infamous 17th place finish when his approach fell short and left his path to the flag blocked by the Road Hole bunker, but the world number six calmly putt to 12ft and holed in for an important par.

McIlroy was unable to convert his long yardie putt on the 17th when Smith putted from just before the 18th green to set up a tap-in birdie before playing partner Young potted for an eagle from 15 feet.

Smith calmly converted his birdie putt and watched as McIlroy was unable to contradict him and call for an overdue fifth major.

McIlroy Street’s missed opportunity

There was no let-up in the competition this time for McIlroy, but he simply had no answer to an incredible performance from Smith, who adds a major title to his Players Championship win earlier this year.

A gracious McIlroy said: “I got beaten by the better man this week; 20-under per round is really impressive here, especially when you’re shooting 64 to make it.

“I can’t be too down on how this year has gone. I’m playing the best golf I’ve played in a long time. It’s just a matter of knocking on the door over and over again.

“I’ll be fine, it’s not a matter of life and death and I’ll have other chances. It’s one I feel like I’m going to let slip, but there will be other opportunities. The putter got a little cold today compared to the last three days.

“My (hotel) room is right across from the big yellow ranking behind the 18th and I was trying to picture my name at the top. It was at the top today, but it won’t be there tomorrow.”

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