The Australian, who earned his first major and third victory this year, produced one of the finest Sunday performances in Open history. A final round 64 saw him leapfrog the field, including Rory McIlroy, to become just the fifth Australian to hold the Claret Jug.
When asked what he told himself last night he said: “Not much, to be honest. I knew my game was there. I felt really comfortable,” having finished off the previous week's Scottish Open with a ‘really solid weekend’ to finish T10.
His round got off to a steady start and a 2-under front nine saw him three shots back of Rory, “I knew I just had to be patient" he said, those putts just started going in on that back nine and I just got a lot of momentum going”. The Brisbane native kicked off his inward nine with five straight birdies to fire himself into the lead.
“The putt on 11 was a pretty good distance, probably 20 feet. When that one dropped, yeah, I could see the hole getting a lot bigger on that back nine for sure.”
That putt scored a Shot Quality of 178 and contributed to his Average Shot Quality score of 112 for the round. In his next three holes, his lowest Shot Quality score with the putter was a phenomenal 161!
However, Smith’s game, across all four departments, was incredibly strong. An overall Average Shot Quality of 113, with all four areas over 100, proves just how well rounded he really was.
A pivotal moment came on the 13th. “My second shot was really when I thought we can win this thing. The drive and second shot were two of the best all week.” That drive, a 295-yard fairway wood that found the short stuff, scored 110 for Shot Quality while the APP (Approach) shot ended up 18ft away from the hole and scored 129 to set up another birdie.
A turning point came on the 17th hole where Smith admits he “just didn't quite commit to the shape”. He subsequently found himself to the left of the green with the infamous Road Hole bunker lurking. A clutch putt from off the green left him with 10 feet, which he calmly rolled in for a vital par save and a Shot Quality of 155. His look to the grandstand underlined that he knew full well how important it was.
Perhaps the biggest testament to the quality of golf that he played today was the fact he hit no shots below 40 for Shot Quality and not far from half his shots (28) scored over 120, something we very rarely see. It was a genuinely brilliant round of golf and every ounce worthy of winning a major championship.
While for many the narrative will be how Rory McIlroy lost the tournament, it’s clear to see that it was Cameron Smith who went out and won it and by the sounds of it, he’s going to celebrate in style.
When asked how many beers he thought he could fit in the Claret Jug, the winner replied, “I'm going to guess two, two cans of beer” before adding he'll probably drink "about 20 Claret Jugs” to celebrate. Who can blame him?
Cameron Smith, 150th Champion Golfer of the Year.