Not that Cameron Smith came out of nowhere, but his career took a 360-degree turn, a skyrocketing ride, this Sunday at the Old Course in St. Andrews. When the cradle of golf, The cathedralwas preparing to invest champion of the 150th Great Britain Open to Rory McIlroy in what would have been a fairy tale, the picturesque Aussie with the mustache and ‘mullet’ got the party going again with a historical return that catapults him into eternity: -8 to -20.
His 64 strokes represent the best result of a champion in the last round of this major, exceeding the 66 signed by Zach Johnson, also in the legendary Scottish course, in 2015. But it is that they also gave him to equalize the lowest score in the history of the greats, the -20 with which his compatriot Jason Day won the PGA 2015, the same as Dustin Johnson at the 2020 Masters and Henrik Stenson in the 2016 Britons.
Everything seemed to go to one hands and hands between fan-favorite McIlroy and Viktor Hovland, the smiling Norwegian who was trying to bring his country into the select Grand Slam club. They went out in the main game from -16, having drawn Saturday playing together, but neither of them fueled. Rory fired 70 shots (-2 for -18, no bogeys but two meager birdies) in a flat, mid-throttle round and finished third, his eyes red with disappointment. It hurt to see him. Hovland, meanwhile, fell to fourth with a +2 to -14, just one birdie in the entire round. This Sunday may not have given him a major, but it certainly taught him a lot. Among other things, how to manage your emotions when everyone seems to want the guy next to you to win.
From behind, the duo appeared Smith as a blood-smelling shark. We did not feel him lifting the Claret Jug after the first nine holes (-2), but in the second half of an Old Course, which without the intervention of the wind is already struggling to contain the modern golfer (there was 139 laps below 70 strokes, although that is 30 less than last year at Royal St. George’s, the absolute record since 1946), he swallowed the distance. Everything was forged in a succession of five birdies between 10 and 14. No one can knock down the man with the honey-smooth swing, intrepid from start to finish, metronome when he goes hunting for flags . If he could break at any time, it is at 17, the famous “Road Hole”, in which he starts above the Old Course Hotel. He missed the green and had no room to play, so he pulled a rabbit out of his hat, walking up the slope 20 yards from the hole and playing with the outline. He left her three meters away and let her in.
This is where the tournament ended despite Cameron Young, a rookie who had already been third in the PGA this year, set to force the playoff after going from -7 to -19, including a desperate eagle on the last hole that made it not work because Smith, then already with the fairway shared by 1 and 18 covered by a mass of spectators, made it birdie. Young finishes second and confirms that there was no break for him between Korn Ferry, the American second division, and the elite, but he could not avoid the first coronation of a Aussie at British since Greg Norman, the now maligned CEO of LIV, triumphed at Muirfield in 1993.
Smith has nothing to do with arrogant Greg. “He has all the great toys and he’s still the same,” his mother says. This year he won The Players, with a check of almost 3.5 million euros (until the emergence of the Saudi Super League, the highest stake in history) and the PGA Tournament of Champions with a historic display: -34 for the lowest tie result in American Tour history. He also finished second at the Masters, beaten only by a delighted Scheffler, despite becoming the first to complete four laps in under 70 at Augusta National.
He is very fond of cars, so he recently bought a Lamborghini, but he is mostly seen with a Nissan GT-R whose license plate reads “hoonigan”, an expression of the slang Aussie for racing lovers. He also loves fishing and his yacht is called “Tin City” because tintin in English, is the material from which beer cans are made. Even in the name, it is original: until now, no Cameron had succeeded in one of the four appointments which, with the Ryder Cup, define this discipline. “I feel like I can’t breathe,” he said with a smile in the St. Andrews press room. “This place is amazing. I love the countryside and I love the city. Winning an Open is already probably the highlight of a golfing career. Doing it in St. Andrews is just amazing,” he celebrated.
The son of a printer worker and a furniture saleswoman, he is not your typical country club boy, but a city golfer. And the city that lit up golf for the world gave it its first 50 majors after doing the same with compatriot Kel Nagle, who won the centenary in exactly the same place. Which sport.
A Briton who is remembered has been orphaned by Spanish notoriety. If Pablo Larrazábal missed the cut, dropping from a +9 to +12 on the second day, things did not improve over the weekend. Neither Jon Rahm, nor Sergio García nor Adri Arnaus managed to keep a pulse on the frontrunner and on Saturday night they were already without victory options.
In the last lap, there was no noticeable performance. Arnaus stayed even and with +1 overall, Sergio shot +1 for -2 and Rahm -2 for -7 on a day that started bogey-double bogey and was able to redirect with five birdies from 5-18. the bomb came when Sergio García crossed the mixed zone, which announced that he was giving up his European Tour membership because he no longer feels “loved” and from now on he will only play LIV. Rahmbo, who regretted the possibility that the man from Castellón will no longer play the Ryder Cup, of which he is an important part of the history, assured that he did not leave St. Andrews with the feeling of a “stuck thorn “and that his leader will be with his family for the next few weeks, as his wife Kelley is about to give birth for the second time. On his next agenda, he has the Spanish Open (October 6 to 9), but in principle he will not go to a Valderrama who left him “casted” last year. The majors campaign ends with a 12th at the US Open as the best performance. It’s his first year without a top 10 in the majors since 2017.