It will be a consolation for Rory McIlroy that Cameron Smith has produced a grand final round of the tournament of all time to claim the 150th Open title. McIlroy found himself standing far from Valley of Sin, held in hand, and needed the punch for the two to join Smith in a playoff. The crowd gave an impromptu roar in hopes of tinkering with a fancy mathematical tale. How do you come to this?
There was not a moment of miracle. McIlroy’s wait for a fifth major success will skyrocket in 2023. The salt has been rubbed into McIlroy’s wounds by the fact that he didn’t even finish second here. A 72-hole eagle from Cameron Young, who enjoyed his first appearance in the Open Championships, awarded him second place. Smith’s 20 under par outnumbered Young by one and a sad but merciful McIlroy by two.
It’s hard to argue that McIlroy missed too much during the fourth round, except perhaps by not taking proper advantage of the opportunity. He will sting, for example, due to the failure of the ninth or fourteenth bird. It was the wrong time for McIlroy to deliver the St Andrews Open Tour not in the 1960s for the first time. It was just 70, two below par, that wasn’t enough to keep up with the unflinching Smith. Australian full-back number nine out of 30 is the lowest Sunday inside half result by any champion in the history of the World Open.
The 28-year-old is no longer one of the best golfers of this generation who has never won a major tournament. He played bravely on the fourth day which makes him the worthy champion of such a historic event. Smith, who won the Players Championship in March, is enjoying the time of his life.
With McIlroy and Victor Hovland in the final set, it was the Norwegian who blinked his eye first. Hovland placed three fourth, which outpaced McIlroy in a single shot. McIlroy comfortably flies the 5 Bar 5 to double its advantage.
Hovland was playing hesitantly. The pressure on McIlroy arrived suddenly from somewhere else. Smith bird tenth and eleventh to move inside one. Almost immediately, McIlroy left his 126-footer shot 10th within range of his kickoff. The two-stroke margin of error was restored, with McIlroy now under 18. Smith turned back by picking up another shot in the twelfth. Smith, now five years old on his tour, was a serious threat.
This challenge was intensified by the Brisbane native with a fourth straight jumper, this time from 15 feet. The lead has now been shared. Smith was an inspiration, and McIlroy was aware of what was happening on the next set. Smith 19 under played the role of McElroy 18 under the role of the former 14th jumper.
It seemed amazing to remember that Smith started the day with four shots close to McIlroy and Hovland. 74 from Hovland means he tied for fourth with Tommy Fleetwood, who signed with a score of 67.
From now on, Young cut the frustration number despite signing on to 65. “It would probably hurt a little worse to come in with a one-shot lead,” he said. “If you lose at eight, you don’t really care.” The 25-year-old’s intriguing main year saw a cut of two pieces, the third and the second tied.
Smith cut his lead straight from the 15th but was able to save the same from a favorite lie out in the open. McIlroy needed short work in 14th, but couldn’t after failing to make it to the green in two. Smith scored a clear and straight equalizer on the 16th and refused to bob the famous Road Hole despite losing the green with his approach. McIlroy’s last realistic hope came at that penultimate hole after a majestic iron to 18 feet. When the bird was dripping, Smith had one hand and four fingers on the claret jug.
Brian Harman and Dustin Johnson tied for sixth at minus 13. Bryson DeChambeau was joined by Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth in the back. Adam Scott number 71 left him 10 miles from Smith but there were words of praise for Smith. “He’s strong and he’s quickly owned his game,” Scott said of his Australian teammate. “He has learned how to play golf very well and very quickly. I think his mind is a source of great strength, as is his putter.” I don’t know if you could say it was inevitable that he had such an opportunity but based on talent? yes.”
Filippo Celli, the 21-year-old Italian, took the amateur low honors at the age of five. After completing three shots shy of that number, LIV rebel Sergio Garcia made it clear he didn’t enjoy his week very much. Andrews 2030 open rematch feels like a bridge too far for Garcia. “It was probably tough,” he said of appearing in eight years. “And the way everyone interacts with us, it’s probably tougher. Things come to an end. That’s what it is.”
Speaking to media from his home country, the Spaniard added that he will move away from the DP World Tour, previously European, which will exclude him from future Ryder Cups. Garcia feels victimized in Europe after subscribing to the LIV series. Feverish speculation continues to link European Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson to this controversial field. With Greg Norman facing the Saudi-backed operation, which McIlroy sits in the face of stiff opposition, there is a joke somewhere about Australians causing Northern Irish grief. Now might not be the time to tell that.