By defeating Rory McIlroy to win the Open Championship on Sunday at St. Andrews, Australian Cameron Smith made history on the Old Course and advanced to his first major.
The scenario was perfect for McIlroy to win the 150th Open and finish a week of festivities at the home of golf by snapping an eight-year majors winless streak.
Smith seized the spotlight by starting the back nine with five straight birdies and adding more crucial strokes at the finish.
His final round score of 8 under par was the lowest by a champion in the 30-time history of the oldest tournament in golf held at St. Andrews.
Cameron Young made a 15-foot eagle putt on the last hole to win the match by one stroke over Smith. It and everything McIlroy could manage were insufficient.
Early on, McIlroy failed to make a putt. Lately, he was unable to hit it near enough.
His final strong chance was a birdie try from 15 feet at the terrifying Road Hole at No. 17, which just missed to the left.
Smith’s tee shot landed at the front of the 18th green, where he had made a 10-foot putt to save par on the 17th.
His movement up the slope and toward the cup from a distance of 80 feet was almost flawless, allowing him to finish at 20-under 268 with a tap-in birdie.
Dustin Johnson last achieved the major championship record of par in the November 2020 Masters, which Smith matched.
McIlroy’s putt through the Valley of Sin had no chance of making it in; he needed an eagle to tie him up.
He finished third with a 70 after missing the birdie.
Since Kel Nagle’s victory at St. Andrews in 1960, when he defeated emerging American star Arnold Palmer in the public vote, Smith is the first Australian to take home the trophy.
That is what McIlroy is right now, and all day long there was a buzz along the Old Course’s hills and valleys as supporters waited to congratulate McIlroy on winning the Open at St. Andrews.