ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND | The R&A leaned into its marketing and branding of this 150th Open. Its catchy slogan spread across the bleachers backing the 18th green: Everything has led to this.
“This” seemed like a Rory McIlroy vs. Viktor Hovland showdown – all square, four clear of the rest, with 18 last holes to play on the venerable Old Course. This doesn’t get much better than that.
Not so fast, said Cameron Smith. The Australian with the short-game touch of Seve Ballesteros went all Jack Nicklaus on the back nine, shooting 30 that started with five consecutive birdies and ended with two all-world up-and-downs for par and birdie on 17 and 18 to snatch the claret jug from McIlroy and just barely edge Open debutante Cameron Young.
All the fears that the Old Course was obsolete and that modern players would shoot 59 and demean the venue proved unfounded. Smith tied the all-time major scoring record of 20-under shared by Henrik Stenson (Royal Troon), Jason Day (Whistling Straits) and Dustin Johnson (Augusta). As Jack Nicklaus s...
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