Cameron Smith captures Claret Jug

Awesome Aussie's 64 seals deal at 150th Open

Open 2022 – Cameron Smith

Open 2022 - Cameron Smith
(Stuart Kerr/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND.  The song “What a difference a day makes” by Dinah Washington captures the essence of the 150th Open Championship. The lyrics speak about “24 little hours” and for Cameron Smith the end of the third round had him wondering if his opportunity had passed — scoring a one-over-par 73 and leaving him four shots behind 54-hole co-leaders Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.

A tall order to face with just 18 holes to play but one he saw as not being insurmountable.

Open 2022 – Cameron Smith

Being able to put matters in perspective — not allowing one day’s poor play to spill over to the next presented a significant challenge but also an opportunity to test himself.

Overcoming such a deficit on the Old Course had not happened since 1939 when Englishman Dick Burton mounted a similar final round charge. The odds for Smith doing similarly seemed improbable but that did not deter him knowing full well that final rounds at major championships can always be unpredictable.

But as Sunday’s final round beckoned Smith stepped up in a big-time manner — firing a second 64 in the championship earning a one-shot win over his playing partner Cameron Young. The two men both made final round moves scoring 129 between them. In the end — it was the Aussie capturing the Claret Jug for his first major title and being proclaimed the “champion golfer of the year.” 

Open 2022 – Cameron Smith

Smith matched the lowest under-par score for a major championship with a -20 total. The last time that happened was when Dustin Johnson captured the Masters in 2020. The 28-year-old, originally from Brisbane, also bested the 72-hole scoring record at the Old Course set by Tiger Woods when winning the 2000 Open Championship — Smith’s 268 cumulative tally now one better than the previous mark.

When the leaders reached the final nine holes — Smith still trailed McIlroy by three shots. Then lightning happened. Smith made five consecutive birdies with a putting wizardry equivalent to Merlin. When winning the Players Championship this past March — Cameron one-putted no less than thirteen times giving him the edge he needed for victory. Coupling a Players win with an Open Championship in the same year has only been done one other time — Jack Nicklaus accomplished that in 1978 with his Open triumph also at St. Andrews.

Open 2022 – Cameron Smith

Smith’s ending 64 also matched fellow countryman Greg Norman’s final round when the Shark took the Claret Jug in 1993 at Royal St. George’s. The win coming at the 150th Open Championship also followed-up another milestone win by an Aussie when Kel Nagle won the 100th Open at St. Andrews, He becomes just the fourth Australian to win The Open Championship along with the aforementioned Nagle and Norman as well as Peter Thompson and Ian Baker Finch.

For Cameron the combination of circumstances was noteworthy.

“That’s pretty cool. I didn’t know that. I think, to win an Open Championship in itself is probably going to be a golfer’s highlight in their career. To do it around St Andrews, I think is just unbelievable. This place is so cool. I love the golf course. I love the town. Yeah, hopefully we can keep that trend going with every 50 years. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? (Laughter),” said Smith.

After taking a late final round lead it was up to Smith to close out his pursuers. Standing in his way were the always dangerous Road Hole at the 17th and the reachable closing par-4-hole 18th.

The Aussie’s approach at the penultimate hole came up short and with the Road Hole bunker staring him in the face he wonderfully putted from off the green around the bunker leaving him a 12-foot par putt to keep his lead. He flawlessly sunk the putt.

(Stuart Kerr/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Open 2022 – Cameron Smith

At the final hole — his drive was able to get near the front of the 18th green but he would need to putt through the Valley of Sin with the pin position placed so near the frontal fall-off edge. His approach putt was magnificent – leaving him no more than just under three feet which he made to seal the triumph.

For Smith the win marked a sign of redemption in major championship play. He had finished solo second at the 2020 Masters and this past spring he placed himself into contention trailing eventual winner Scottie Scheffler by three shots entering the final round. The Aussie would limp home with a 73 eventually earning a tie for third.

Breaking through and winning a major title is no small achievement and like other first-time winners in the game’s most sought-after titles — he had to overcome past failures and see matters through. To do so at the Old Course provided a grand redemption. 

“Yeah, I think so. I’ve definitely kicked myself a couple of times over the past few years. To do it the way I did today was pretty cool to be back and really apply pressure, keep holing putts. Yeah, it was awesome,” said Smith.

Coming down the stretch of any major event is always a twofold trial by fire — executing shots precisely and keeping one’s emotions on an even keel basis. 

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“It was pretty tense. I think maybe after my second or third birdie there on the back nine, I was starting to think that I could really win this thing. I think I was three back with nine holes to go, and I really needed to make something happen.”

“But, yeah, I would say those first three holes on that back nine really came to me, and then from there I was starting to get different emotions and really had to keep an eye on what I was thinking and just different shots into greens.”

Saturday’s poor play could have proved an anchor to overcome for others — Smith used it as a motivator to believe what a difference a day can make.

“I think I was really frustrated yesterday with how the round went. I just really put it down to links golf. I think you really have those days on these courses where you get a bit of a weird bounce here and there and puts you in a bad spot. So, I shrugged it off pretty good, I think, last night. I really didn’t dwell on it too much. But to go out there and really stick my head down and keep making birdies and keep making putts, I think that definitely helped yesterday.”

Winning any golf tournament takes perseverance and Smith kept putting himself into contention knowing full well anything can happen in a final round — most notably in a major event.

Open 2022 – Cameron Smith

“I guess, at the start of the year to really knuckle down and try and get over the line. For it to happen three times this year is pretty unreal. I really wasn’t expecting that. I would have been happy with one. Just lots of hard work and keeping at it.”

Being in the position in trailing played a crucial role for Cameron — playing both smartly and aggressively keeping his foot down on the pedal.

“I think it was a good thing that I was definitely behind. I think my mindset would have been a touch different coming in, especially on that back nine, if I was ahead. I think my shot into — my second shot into 13 was really when I thought that we can win this thing. 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.”

Now with the event in his rear-view mirror — Smith was asked about how many beers it would take to fill the Claret Jug? 

“I’m going to guess two, two cans of beer,” said Smith jokingly. He then whimsically added — “I’ll probably have about twenty Claret Jugs.”

Besides his calling card being an unerring putting stroke — Smith was quick to point out his renowned mullet hair style will remain. “I think it’s going to stay mate.”

The 150th Open at St. Andrews concludes the final major event for ’22. The next takes place nine months from now when the Masters is played at Augusta National. The Old Course once again provided the ultimate stage for an ending few likely ever thought possible.

Smith’s opening comments during the Claret Jug presentation summed up matters ever so succinctly — 

“What a week.” 

Indeed — it certainly was.

Pos.PlayerTo ParR1R2R3R4Total
1Cameron Smith-2067647364268
2Cameron Young-1964697165269
3Rory McIlroy-1866686670270
T4Tommy Fleetwood-1472696667274
T4Viktor Hovland-1468666674274
T6Brian Harman-1373686866275
T6Dustin Johnson-1368677169275
T8Bryson DeChambeau-1269746766276
T8Patrick Cantlay-1270677168276
T8Jordan Spieth-1271696868276
T11Sadom Kaewkanjana-1171677465277
T11Abraham Ancer-1171687365277
T11Dean Burmester-1171736766277
T11Tyrrell Hatton-1170667368277
T15Lucas Herbert-1070687367278
T15Xander Schauffele-1069707267278
T15Anthony Quayle-1074696867278
T15Francesco Molinari-1073716668278
T15Adam Scott-1072657071278
T15Si Woo Kim-1069696773278
T21Billy Horschel-973697067279
T21Min Woo Lee-969697368279
T21Trey Mullinax-971736669279
T21Shane Lowry-972686970279
T21Kevin Kisner-974706570279
T21Matt Fitzpatrick-972666972279
T21Scottie Scheffler-968686974279
T28Tony Finau-873717066280
T28Corey Conners-871717167280
T28Harold Varner III-873677268280
T28Will Zalatoris-873677169280
T28Dylan Frittelli-870716970280
T28Thomas Pieters-875676771280
T34Thomas Detry-770697468281
T34Robert MacIntyre-770746968281
T34Talor Gooch-768697569281
T34Lee Westwood-768717369281
T34Sahith Theegala-769687470281
T34Jon Rahm-773677170281
T34Victor Perez-771697170281
T34Aaron Wise-772677171281
T42Sam Burns-672697764282
T42Jason Kokrak-672707268282
T42Thriston Lawrence-669717369282
T42Adrian Meronk-675687069282
T42Chris Kirk-675686970282
T47Garrick Higgo-572697666283
T47Patrick Reed-572687667283
T47Jordan L Smith-573717267283
T47Yuto Katsuragawa-571687569283
T47Joohyung Kim-569717271283
T47Filippo Celli-574677171283
T53Joaquin Niemann-469747368284
T53Danny Willett-469737369284
T53Robert Dinwiddie-467777169284
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T53Justin Thomas-472707270284
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T53Jason Scrivener-472717170284
T53Brad Kennedy-468727272284
T53Nicolai Hojgaard-473677173284
T62Cameron Tringale-371717469285
T62Sebastián Muñoz-373717170285
T62John Parry-369747072285
T62David Carey-372677373285
T62Ian Poulter-369727074285
T62Russell Henley-370726875285
T68Hideki Matsuyama-271727667286
T68Sergio Garcia-275667273286
T68Christiaan Bezuidenhout-273716874286
T68Richard Mansell-273716874286
T72David Law-172697769287
T72Kurt Kitayama-168737373287
T74Marcus ArmitagePar71727174288
T74Justin De Los SantosPar71737074288
T76Wyndham Clark+171737669289
T76Adri Arnaus+174707372289
T76Aaron Jarvis (a)+175697273289
T79Laurie Canter+272707474290
T79Barclay Brown (a)+268707775290
T81Sam Bairstow (a)+472727969292
T81Sungjae Im+471737474292
83Jamie Rutherford+873707875296
CUTHenrik Stenson+17570145
CUTJustin Harding+17471145
CUTLouis Oosthuizen+17174145
CUTKeith Mitchell+17669145
CUTMax Homa+17372145
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