Golf-‘Jeez, what a week’ – Aussie Smith savours awesome triumph

By Ed Osmond

ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) – Australian Cameron Smith was almost lost for words after shooting a flawless closing 64 to win the 150th British Open on Sunday.

The 28-year-old world number six overhauled a four-shot deficit to claim his maiden major title, becoming the first Australian to lift the Claret Jug since Greg Norman in 1993.

“Jeez, what a week. It’s unreal to look at the names on this trophy and then see mine… I’m lost for words,” he said after receiving the trophy.

“I’m going to fall apart here I know. I want to thank the team here for all their hard work, and this one makes it worth it.

“To the R&A – a fantastic week, to St Andrews Links and everyone involved – it was absolutely awesome out there.

“The course was exactly how an Open championship should be played.”

A large group of Australians in the crowd celebrated wildly, a week after they had watched Nick Kyrgios lose the Wimbledon tennis final to Novak Djokovic.

“Lastly to you guys the fans – I had a lot of support out there, especially the Aussie guys,” Smith said.

“You guys really kept me going. Seemed like that there was a lot of you guys and you kept me plugging away. This one’s for Oz.”

The Queenslander led the tournament at halfway, plotting his way round the Old Course superbly in rounds of 67 and 64.

His putter went cold on Saturday, however, when he battled hard to eke out a grinding 73 and stay in contention.

FRONT NINE

Starting the final round four shots adrift of Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland, Smith made a cautious start and picked up only two shots on the front nine.

But suddenly the winner of this year’s Players’ Championship, the unofficial fifth major, found inspiration once again.

Five birdies in a row from the 10th hole took him top of the leaderboard and he consolidated with two steady pars.

His approach to the 17th green finished wide of the green, however, and he was only able to get his third shot to 12 feet from the hole.

A nerveless clutch putt, however, secured another par and Smith sent his second shot at the 18th to within three feet of the cup and a certain closing birdie.

“I was just trying to get it on the green and have a look. The putter felt hot all day,” Smith said. “I knew if I could get within 15-20 feet I could have a look and I got away with it.”

Smith still had to wait for McIlroy to finish but when the Northern Irishman failed to eagle the last hole, he was able to start celebrating.

Twenty-under for the tournament equalled the Open record for the lowest score in relation to par, matching the mark set by Sweden’s Henrik Stenson in 2016.

“It’s just unreal,” Smith said. “This place is so cool, to have the 150th Open here at St Andrews and to walk away with the win is something I’ve dreamt of. I never thought I’d get this far. It’s awesome.”

He plans to toast his victory in typical Australian style.

“I am definitely going to find out how many beers can fit in this jug for sure,” he said.

(Reporting by Ed Osmond, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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