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British Open 2022: Cam Smith's Comeback Win over Rory McIlroy Praised by Golf Twitter

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJuly 17, 2022

PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

It seemed like Sunday at the 2022 Open Championship was setting up to be a coronation for crowd-favorite Rory McIlroy at St. Andrews.

Cameron Smith decided to crash the party.

The Australian shot a blistering eight-under 64 in the final round to win the first major of his career at 20 under. He was four strokes behind McIlroy and Viktor Hovland at the start of play but came roaring back with five birdies in a row on the back nine and outlasted the former by two strokes and Cameron Young by one:

1. Cameron Smith, -20

2. Cameron Young, -19

3. Rory McIlroy, -18

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Cameron Smith has matched the best score to par in a single major all-time. He joins:<br><br>Dustin Johnson (-20 at 2020 Masters)<br>Henrik Stenson (-20 at 2016 Open)<br>Jason Day (-20 at 2015 PGA)

Alex Kirshner @alex_kirshner

Cam Smith is a golf unicorn. However many tools there are in golf, he has that many tools

It looked to be a two-man showdown coming into the final round with McIlroy and Hovland paired together and four strokes clear of Smith and Young. McIlroy was the crowd favorite at the Scottish course as he attempted to break a major championship drought dating to 2014 and win the fifth of his career.

On a course littered with birdies, drivable par-fours and low scores, steady pars were not going to be enough to win the Claret Jug. Hovland found that out the hard way with 10 pars and one bogey in the first 11 holes before his first birdie on No. 12 and gradually faded as the tournament continued on his way to a two-over 74.

That, along with McIlroy consistently two-putting and missing some birdie chances even as he avoided mistakes, opened the door for a comeback.

Dan Wolken @DanWolken

That’s about gonna seal the deal for Cameron Smith. Made every shot necessary and McIlroy couldn’t get a putt to go down for two straight days

Brendan Quinn @BFQuinn

It'd be one thing if McIlroy were kicking this away. But he's not. It's like he's hanging in suspended animation. Just, kind of, doing ... not much ... as the day grows longer and the end nears. <br><br>Brutal and fascinating, all at once.

Super 70s Sports @Super70sSports

“What happened, Rory?”<br><br>“Well, I was leading and then General Custer birdied every hole on the back nine …” <a href="https://t.co/iryJUwFekh">pic.twitter.com/iryJUwFekh</a>

Dan Rapaport @Daniel_Rapaport

Hard to describe the collective nervousness of this crowd right now given Rory’s inability to hole a put. Actually, it’s kind of easy to describe: they’re just really freakin’ nervous.

Dan Rapaport @Daniel_Rapaport

Should Rory not win, I’ll keep coming back to that putt on 9. Had a chance to go three up, turn in 34 and feel like everything’s right on schedule. Instead he misses, and now it’s like “damn they don’t want to fall today.” Then Cam starts cooking. Pivotal moment.

No Laying Up @NoLayingUp

Rory's putted a lot better than the stats will show today. Given pretty much every putt a good run. <br><br>He just straight up hasn't hit it close enough. No big mistakes but he's been driving too slow in the left lane and got passed on the right.

Justin Ray @JustinRayGolf

As far back as the stats go, Rory McIlroy is the only player to hold the 54-hole lead at a major, hit every green in regulation in the final round and not win.

Smith was happy to oblige and took full advantage with the five straight birdies from Nos. 10 through 14. He was suddenly in first place by himself with an opportunity to win a major title for the first time and put close calls with four previous top-five finishes behind him.

Taylor Twellman @TaylorTwellman

Cam Smith <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/ePYWphTeln">pic.twitter.com/ePYWphTeln</a>

Adam Kramer @KegsnEggs

Cam Smith <a href="https://t.co/60j1NAGrA3">pic.twitter.com/60j1NAGrA3</a>

Robby Kalland @RKalland

i would love one time in my life to feel what cam smith feels with the putter in his hands

Brandon Gdula @gdula13

How it feels watching Cam Smith right now. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/H5E6iLUMHT">pic.twitter.com/H5E6iLUMHT</a>

NBC Sports @NBCSports

Cameron Smith's fourth consecutive birdie ties Rory McIlroy for the lead at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheOpen</a> at -18.<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/nbc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBC</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/peacockTV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@peacockTV</a><br>💻: <a href="https://t.co/qerp9TmWfN">https://t.co/qerp9TmWfN</a><a href="https://t.co/cDNqAtkzfP">pic.twitter.com/cDNqAtkzfP</a>

Golf Channel @GolfChannel

Cameron Smith's putter is on fire! 🔥<br><br>Another birdie at the 11th moves him to within just one shot of the lead at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheOpen</a>.<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/nbc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nbc</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/peacockTV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@peacockTV</a> <br>💻: <a href="https://t.co/DhnlOakkwG">https://t.co/DhnlOakkwG</a> <a href="https://t.co/XFzqF52AeA">pic.twitter.com/XFzqF52AeA</a>

No Laying Up @NoLayingUp

In one hour, Cam Smith took his win probability from 6.1% to 55.9% 🤯 <a href="https://t.co/hxca0D9X3F">pic.twitter.com/hxca0D9X3F</a>

There would be no blinking in the face of pressure, and never was that clearer than the 17th.

Smith overcame a poor approach shot with a borderline-ridiculous up-and-down with the putter from behind a bunker to preserve his one-stroke lead in stunning fashion. All he did from there was birdie the 18th to complete a back-nine 30 in a performance that will be remembered for ages.

No Laying Up @NoLayingUp

Up and down for here with The Open on the line are you kidding me!? <a href="https://t.co/bB3YftNoTp">pic.twitter.com/bB3YftNoTp</a>

Bob Harig @BobHarig

Great putt for Cam Smith at the 17th to save par... Amazing recovery after his worst shot of the day. He takes a one shot lead to 18. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheOpen</a>

Robby Kalland @RKalland

casual 2-putt from here. you see it every day. <a href="https://t.co/4Oil0k94tF">pic.twitter.com/4Oil0k94tF</a>

That final birdie proved to be a monster one because Young drove the par-four green and eagled the 18th to temporarily tie his playing partner before the champion fittingly sunk his final putt.

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