Cameron Smith owed his success in the The Open Championship, his maiden major championship, to the fervent support of his fellow Australians, who cheered him on throughout the tournament at St. Andrews.
The sixth-ranked player in the world shot an incredible final round of 64 to tie the Open record of 20 strokes under par.
Smith needed every stroke since his playing companion Cameron Young ended only one shot behind him, while the fan favourite Rory McIlroy finished third on 18 under par.
Smith, when he was being presented with the Claret Jug, stated, “I had a lot of support out there, particularly the Aussie boys, you guys really kept me going out there.”
“There appeared to be a lot of you people out there, and you kept me working hard, so this one is for Australia!”
On the last nine holes of the 150th British Open, Smith performed one of the most impressive comebacks ever seen at a major event, coming from four strokes behind to win the tournament. Meanwhile, McIlroy’s winless streak at major championships continued.
Smith, who earlier this year won golf’s unofficial fifth major, The Players Championship, shot a sensational final round score of eight under 64, which included a spectacular run of five consecutive birdies from the turn. As a result, Smith became the first Australian to hoist the Claret Jug since Greg Norman in 1993. Norman was the last Australian to win the tournament in 1993.
The Queenslander, who is just 28 years old, also made history by becoming the first Australian man since Jason Day’s triumph in the PGA Championship in 2015 to win one of golf’s four major championships.
Smith’s winning total of 20 under 268 was one better than that of his playing partner Young, who made an eagle on the last hole for a score of 65 to finish alone in second place. Meanwhile, McIlroy, who was the betting favourite coming into St. Andrews, faltered at the finish to settle for third place. Smith’s total of 20 under 268 was one better than that of Young.
McIlroy began the final round with a share of the lead with Viktor Hovland, four strokes ahead of the rest of the field. An end to his eight-year major championship drought seemed to be in sight when McIlroy went two shots ahead and assumed sole possession of first place.
The Northern Irishman’s strategy of playing it safe looked to have been a success as he carded a score of two under par 70 without making a single mistake.
But in the end, luck was on Smith’s side as his all-or-nothing strategy paid off in the form of his being named Champion Golfer of the Year.