8 things and thoughts on Cameron Smith’s stunning Open Championship win

It’s still hard to believe Cameron Smith won the 150th Open Championship. 

In the wake of Cameron Smith’s gigantic victory at The Open, there are a few things I’ve been mulling over and jotting down that I thought I’d share.

There were many defining moments before, during and after one of the all-time great final rounds in a major. The putter was hot, the short game was on and even the sometimes shaky driver was superb.

After a difficult third round, Cameron Smith was all but written out of the conversation before the final round on Sunday. The script was to be about McIlroy – whether he won or lost.

Few were expecting Smith’s phenomenal putting display and incredible poise under pressure to shoot 30 on the back nine, for an incredible 8-under 64.

This wasn’t a case of someone stumbling and someone else winning. This was one phenomenal final round of golf that saw Smith win the tournament with his own game.

As Rory McIlroy later admitted, he didn’t lose this one, he was simply “beaten by a better player this week.”

The one-stroke victory was one for the ages. I’m already looking forward to the release of the official 2022 Open Championship film.

There were some key moments that led to this win, and a few extra things that I’ve stumbled across since the early hours of Monday morning.

That par on the Road Hole
This was the definitive moment of the day. (And strangely not much of it was part of the official “Full Highlights” from The Open)

Smith’s line into the famous 17th Road Hole at The Old Course wasn’t ideal.

From the left side of the fairway, the shot needed to be perfect – or short and right. Instead Smith hit his only bad shot of the round, catching it a little fat and his golf ball finished short and left. Right behind the famous Road Hole bunker.

With no way of getting close to the hole, Smith opted for the putter over the wedge and played the ball to within 12 feet. From this distance, Smith was deadly with the short stick.

And from another angle…

Peter Thomson
Five-time Open Champion Peter Thomson holds the record for the most major victories by an Australian male golfer. Thomson passed away just over four years ago but his ashes were scattered on the 18th green at The Old Course at St.Andrews on Sunday morning.

Fulfilling a promise he made to his parents, Andrew Thomson shared the news that the ceremony was performed just 12 hours before Cameron Smith drove his ball just short of the par-4 18th hole, then getting up-and-down for a historic victory.

Wayward driver? Nope.
While Cameron Smith’s short game is now widely appreciated, there are always some question marks over his form with the driver – especially down the stretch. Even on his way to victory at THE PLAYERS, Smith struggled to keep control of the driver with his exquisite short game winning him the tournament.

But there was no sign of any ill-confidence off the tee from Smith on Sunday – aside from perhaps a nerve-wracking moment off the tee at 13. Everyone will remember the role the putter played in Smith’s victory, but let’s not forget his nerves and control with the driver under pressure.

That shot into 13
And speaking of the 13th. This was the hole that Smith has double-bogeyed on Saturday. Once Smith’s drive had snuck past the Coffin Bunkers on Sunday, it was here that Smith felt like he could win the tournament.

Smith’s 187-yard approach shot finished pin-high, some 15 feet from the hole. The subsequent birdie was his fourth in a row, Smith was now in a share of the lead. Game on.

“I think my shot into — my second shot into 13 was really when I thought that we can win this thing” Smith later told the media. “I think I had three birdies in a row before that, and then to hit that shot in there, or the two shots, the drive and the second shot, were two of the best all week. For that to go in, I think, that was it for me.”

The Saturday struggle
Let’s talk about the 13th again. Smith made a couple of bad decisions at the 13th hole on Saturday that could’ve ruined his tournament. The awkward stance and then the shot out of the gorse all piled up to a frustrating six shots.

A lesser golfer, perhaps a younger Smith may have lost his mulleted head right there. Instead, Smith made a birdie at the next hole and held his game together to stay within reach of the leaders.

“It was a bit of a struggle yesterday afternoon, I think. To come in there — I think I probably played those last few holes maybe even-par or 1-under,” Smith later said.

“So to do that and really keep myself in the tournament, I think, was good, especially when things aren’t really going your way. It’s easy to just kind of throw the towel in and really let it get away with you. Yeah, just stuck in there, and it was worth it today.”

Cameron Smith had no family at St.Andrews
Sure, the best golfers in the world have a big entourage with them these days but Smith told reporters after the final round that he had no family in attendance at St.Andrews to see the biggest win of his career. Smith’s father, Des was going to make the trip to The Home of Golf but pulled out at the last minute.

“I don’t have any family here. I’ve got all my team here. My dad was actually meant to come over, and he pulled out in the last minute basically. I had a quick chat with him before. He’s kicking himself now,” Smith said. “I really wish he was here too. It would have been such a cool week, even without this, to be at the home of golf. Dad loves his golf as well. It would have been awesome.”

And the reason for missing the trip?

“Just kind of the thought of doing all that travel for one week basically,” laughed Smith.

How many beers fit into the Claret Jug?
And while Smith largely looked stunned and overwhelmed by the occasion as he accepted the oldest trophy in golf, he managed to let his guard down slightly when pressed on potential celebrations.

“I’m definitely gonna find out how many beers fit in this thing, that’s for sure,” Smith said.

The next day, once the celebrations were done and dusted, Smith took to Instagram to answer the question. Click the image below.

Favourite photo from the post-round party
We can only imagine how great the celebrations must have been – and we’re guessing his good mate and World Cup partner Marc Leishman kinda wishes he’d made the cut now just to have been there on Sunday to be a part of it.

Adam Scott was one of the first to congratulate Smith on his victory after the round.

After being in contention himself on Sunday – a gorse bush on the 12th ending his hopes – Scott was there to help celebrate the victory – Image via Grant_Field_Golf

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