Cameron Smith wins the 2022 Open Championship with incredible back nine heroics

Australia’s Cameron Smith is the 2022 Open Champion.

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Cameron Smith has become the first Australian to win the Open Championship since Greg Norman in 1993 after holding off Cameron Young and Rory McIlroy at St.Andrews.

Trailing the leaders Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland by four shots going into the final day, Smith produced one of the all-time great final rounds to win by a single stroke.

“I feel like I can breathe. These last four or five holes aren’t easy around here, especially with the wind up off the left,” Smith said. “Yeah, just stuck to what I was doing. Yeah, just really proud of how I kind of knuckled down today and managed to get it done.”

Smith carded a closing round 64, his second round of 8-under par for the tournament to break Tiger Woods’ Open Championship record with a four-round total fo 20-under par.

Remarkably, Smith required just 30 shots to get around the back-nine at St.Andrews on Sunday.

After just missing a birdie putt at the ninth hole, Smith went on a tear making four consecutive birdies to storm into the lead.

The only mistake Smith made on the back nine was his approach shot to the difficult Road Hole 17th at St.Andrews.

It would become a defining moment in the history of the tournament.

Finding the fairway with a well-struck tee shot over the hotel, Smith left his approach shot short with the infamous Road Hole bunker between his golf ball and the flagstick.

“That second shot on 17, it’s just really an awkward shot, especially where I was. I kind of had to draw a 9-iron in there,” Smith said. “You’re only trying to get it to 40 or 50 feet anyway. Just didn’t quite commit to the shape I wanted to hit and got it a little bit toey and turned over a touch more than I would have liked.”

Smith used his trusty flat stick to putt around the bunker to get with 15-feet of the hole. With the putter running hot, Smith made the putt for an incredibly unlikely par to arrive at the 18th tee with a one-stroke cushion at 19-under par.

“I was just trying to get it inside 15 feet, and the putter felt really good all day,” Smith said. “I knew if I could get it somewhere in there, that I’d be able to give it a pretty good run. Yeah, managed to get away with a 4 there.”

Drama was still to unfold at the most famous closing hole in golf.

With McIlroy desperately trying to make a birdie in the group behind, the biggest challenge to Smith’s lead came from playing partner Cameron Young.

The big-hitting American pounded his drive onto the green and made an eagle to get to 19-under par.

Smith’s drive had finished just in front of the green and it was here the 28-year-olds immaculate short game skills shone once more.

Smith looked immune to the pressure of the moment; he putted up the slope with his ball finishing just a few feet short of the hole – all but ensuring a birdie and the clubhouse lead at 20-under par.

McIlroy needed to make an eagle to force a playoff but his chip shot across the Valley of Sin was too strong. A final two-putt meant McIlroy finished his round with 36-putts and his dream of winning another major golf championship was gone for another year.

Compare that with Cameron Smith needing just 28-putts in particular 11 on the back nine and you have the reason why Smith goes home with The Claret Jug.

“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,” Snmith said afterwards. “I had a quick chat with him before. He’s kicking himself now.”

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