Image courtesy of theopen.com

Cameron Smith charged his way into history on the Old Course, a Sunday stunner at St. Andrews that sent the Australian to his first major title by overcoming Rory McIlroy to win the Open Championship.

The stage was set for McIlroy to end his eight-year drought in the majors and cap off a week of celebration at the home of golf in the 150th Open.

Instead, Smith stole the show by running off five straight birdies to start the back nine and delivering more clutch moments at the end. His 8-under 64 was the lowest final round by a champion in the 30 times golf’s oldest championship has been played at St. Andrews.

Smith won by 1 shot over Cameron Young, who holed a 15-foot eagle putt on the final hole to ever-so-briefly tie for the lead.

It wasn’t enough, and neither was anything McIlroy could muster.

McIlroy couldn’t make a putt early. He couldn’t hit it close enough late. His last good chance was a 15-foot birdie attempt on the scary Road Hole at No. 17, and it narrowly missed to the left.

Smith, who saved par on the 17th with a 10-foot putt, was at the front of the 18th green with his tee shot. From 80 feet away, his pace up the slope and toward the cup was close to perfect, leaving him a tap-in birdie to finish at 20-under 268.

Smith matched the major championship record to par, last reached by Dustin Johnson in the 2020 Masters held in November.

McIlroy needed eagle to tie him, and his chip through the Valley of Sin had no chance. He missed the birdie and wound up with a 70 to finish third.