How Cameron Smith climbed into St. Andrews stole the show from Rory McIlroy at The Open

Street. Andrews, Scotland – Eliminated in the 150th Open winning round.

While both St. Andrews was following Rory McIlroy, and Cameron Smith, who was ahead, put together a group of five in a row to jump to the top of the leaderboard through 14 holes. After an hour or so, Smith’s name was carved into the claret pot.

He didn’t blink on Sunday. The first time he seemed a little upset was when he held the cup.

“What a week – I’m going to collapse here I know,” he said.

But if there’s one thing he hasn’t done over the past four days, it’s been falling apart, despite a hard Saturday.

The day before he was announced as this year’s golfers champion, Smith was thinking about the places where it all went wrong. He wrote off a round of 73. He looked depressed. Talk about how the golf gods are against him. He lamented how he attacked the 13th with gusto, rather than playing carefully – and walked away with a double ghost.

The optimism we saw from him in the first two rounds had temporarily ebbed, leaving us with what we thought would be direct penalty shootouts between the two leaders overnight – McIlroy and Victor Hovland – for the championship. But Smith has not lost hope – far from it.

“I guess I was really disappointed [Saturday] With how the tour went,” he said, “I really put it in the golf ties.” So I ignored it well. I really didn’t dwell on it much.”

On Sunday, Smith started dancing again, with support from Australia. Focusing elsewhere – mostly on McIlroy – he put together another flawless round just as he did on Friday, firing an 8-under 64 into the crash gate of what was supposed to be McIlroy’s coronation.

Once Smith flew the last hole, he had two shots on McIlroy. He set off to sign his scorecard as the crowd flocked to the aisle asking for a miracle. But the moment McIlroy’s lead didn’t make it to the green and his hole-attempt waned for an eagle to force a playoff, Smith walked out of the shack as the winner of golf’s oldest championship. He hugged his can and then looked a little lost.

“I don’t have any family here,” he said. “I have all my team here.”

A week of travel was too much effort for his father.

“My dad was supposed to come, and he pulled out at the last minute,” Smith said. “I spoke to him quickly before. He’s kicking himself now.”

It is fitting that the 150th edition of The Open was played like the first time in 1860. At the time, Old Tom Morris was the home favorite. He knew the course better than anyone else. But then Willie Park came along to win the inaugural championship. We’ve seen this before — like Stuart Sink overtaking Turnberry audience darling, Tom Watson, in 2009. But that’s to be remembered for Smith’s wonderful weekend and not the impending McIlroy. We have to look beyond the romance of what McIlroy’s win meant and focus on Smith’s amazing performance.



Rory McIlroy reflects on his performance in the Open Championship after finishing third.

Make no mistake about this: Smith deserved to win. The way he negotiated the course on Sunday was great, especially since he had to reset after disappointment on Saturday’s Tour.

It all started with a running bird, each one majestic. His 10th of 27-yard chips gave him 5 feet for a birdie. On the eleventh and twelfth days, it digs from a distance of 16 feet and 11 feet, respectively.

But it was the way he passed on day 13 that led him to believe that he would win the championship. This was his opponent on Saturday. On Sunday, he found the pass, then hit a beautiful 184-yard approaching shot to leave him with an 18-foot birdie kick. This also entered.

“I think my second shot to 13 was really when I thought we could win this thing,” he said. “Hitting that shot there, or the two shots, the drive and the second shot, were the best all week. So, I guess that was it for me.”

Then on the 14th day he found himself far from the back of the green. He turned to the racket, which left him 5 feet to make it five sparrows in a row.

“I knew I had to be patient,” he said. “I felt really good all day, those kicks started playing in those back nines and I got a lot of momentum.”

If this group of birds put him in his position, it was the way he approached the seventeenth that won him over. The infamous road hole dashed hopes. On Sunday, Smith finds himself in a noisy place, finding himself among that famous, dreaded, green lair. But he worked his way around it to save equality.

20 has less than a tie for the best score in a major. He became the fifth golfer to win two players and a major that same year, joining Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Martin Kaymer and Hal Sutton. But realizing the company he’s holding now can wait. He said his number one priority is figuring out how many beers he can put in a claret pot.

In this Open, he talks about how he immerses himself in the TV series “Peaky Blinders” and “State of Origin”. He also took his bike for a spin every morning around the coast to get his legs working. It all helped him stay calm and prepared for the championship winning moments that he eased into Sunday.

But after winning, my first emotion was comfort.

“I feel like I can breathe,” he said shortly after.

McIlroy will regroup, but that will hurt. The hotel room where he and his family are staying overlooks the eighteenth. Every morning he would look outside and dream of being on top of the yellow leaderboard above the runway.

“At the beginning of the day, he was at the top, but at the beginning [Monday]He said, ‘It won’t be like that. Of course you have to allow yourself – you have to let yourself dream. You have to let yourself think about it and how it would be. Possible. I have a little time to rest and recover and try to take the positives, learn from the negatives and move on.”

McIlroy will make more attempts to end the eight-year wait for his fifth major, but Smith will enjoy the feeling of winning his first team.

Smith’s next challenge is to see if he can stay up past 10 local time this evening. He says he’ll try drinking 20 or so Claret Jugs even though he’s exhausted. The last few days I got him out of it. The size of what he achieved has not yet reached his homeland.

“I knew it wouldn’t be long before I got one of those,” he said. “I’ve knocked on the door, I think, maybe once a few times now. So it’s good that it’s done.”

“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I don’t think it will last for a few weeks. Yes, it’s unrealistic.”

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