Rory McIlroy was by far the fan favorite at St. Andrews this week. Coming into Sunday’s fourth and final round, he was the co-leader by four strokes. Most assumed that if either of them had a solid day of under par golf that didn’t include any bogeys that they would cruise. Those assumptions, however, were wrong as Cameron Smith fought back from a four-shot deficit to begin the day and claim the Claret Jug thanks to a spectacular -8 64.
Playing in the penultimate group, Smith had less pressure than he had on him than the day prior as he faltered a bit on Saturday. With McIlroy and Viktor Hovland in the last group, and the fans firmly on the Northern Irishman, Smith was able to apply pressure and play more freely. He got hot during the last nine holes, making birdies on five straight between 10 and 14 to take command. He confirmed what would prove to be another Open win for the Aussies when he birdied the 18th hole as well, following up a big-time par save on the infamously tough 17th hole. Smith ended up winning by one shot over his fellow Cameron, Young, who also put together a strong run-in that included an eagle on the last that took him into a solo second finish. McIlroy finished two behind the -20 winner while Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood tied for fourth at -14. The -20 score that Smith posted ties him for the lowest round in The Open’s history, and it has forever made him a legend of the game, particularly at the Home of Golf.