2022 Open Championship: Cameron Smith Races Past Rory McIlroy to Seize the Claret Jug

Embed from Getty ImagesCAMERON SMITH IS THE CHAMPION GOLFER OF THE YEAR, as they like to say at the Open Championship. Rory McIlroy, the 54-hole co-leader with Viktor Hovland, finished third. It’s another in a long string of major disappointments for McIlroy, who was the clear fan and media favorite.

But what can you do when you play a smart, controlled final round of 70 (you finally get that part right) and still lose?

The only thing Rory is guilty of is not quite shooting low enough. In the 150 years of the Open Championship, 18 under puts your name on the Claret Jug on all but a few occasions, like yesterday.

Starting the final round with at least a four-shot lead on everyone except 54-hole co-leader Hovland, Rory needed a 67 and a record score of 21 under to win at St. Andrews yesterday. That’s a big ask. I think he could do it. It’s probably in him. But he didn’t.

Instead — and this is the story — Mr. Smith of Australia played one of the greatest final rounds in majors history. Cam shot an 8-under 64, including a 30 on the final nine. His finish featured a nerveless up and down on the Road Hole for a par and a brilliant little birdie at the last to seal his first major victory by a stroke at the Home of Golf.

(That other Cameron named Young also came within an eyelash of golf immortality, posting a 65 alongside the winner that included an eagle 2 at the last hole, to finish runner-up.)

To use a track analogy, Rory McIlroy ran a very good race. But Cameron Smith finished like Usain Bolt. No one could have beaten the Aussie yesterday without stealing his putter.

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Neil Sagebiel

3 thoughts on “2022 Open Championship: Cameron Smith Races Past Rory McIlroy to Seize the Claret Jug”

  1. We agree that McIllroy played very well. About the time that Smith started the 9th or 10th hole, TV Commentator Paul Azinger made a comment about the remarkable putting he had seen from Cameron Smith. This is not an exact quote. But it was a very knowledgeable one and, as we've seen, a great prediction.

    In my experience, the greatest athletes, in the most important predictions, "rise to the occasion." An example was baseball player Kirby Puckett, who hit a "walk off" homerun in the 6th game of the World Series that brought the Mn Twins to the 7th game, which they won. Kirk Gibson also hit such a walk off home run in the World Series.

    Tiger Woods at his best displayed incredible brilliance. I remember, for example, a long downhill putt in San Diego Torrey Pines that kept him in the tournament, which he eventually won. Or Tom Watson, holing out from the side of the green at Pebble Beach. These were only single shots or home runs but were examples of the greatest athletes pulling out off something remarkable at the most important time(s)

    It will be interesting to see if Smith can maintain this brilliance. I am not nearly smart enough to make such a prediction.

  2. I think this has been such a great year for the majors. Each of them had their own drama and great shots. Sheffler was on a role at the Masters, JT was clutch at the PGA, Fitz played great at the US Open, Smith was lights out at the Open. So much fun to watch.

  3. Agreed, Lem. I also think it's good for golf that there are so many fantastic players. No criticism of some who dominated in earlier eras – they were remarkable. But I also like to see people from different backgrounds/countries, doing well.

    And it sounds like Cameron Smith came from a pretty modest background. (At least that's how he was described on tv) That's especially compelling to me. I love the idea that you don't have to come from wealth to be a world class golfer.


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