Mendoza: Birdie binge gives Smith historic Open win

·2 min read

The global sports headline yesterday was undoubtedly the victory of Cameron Smith in the 150th British Open at St. Andrews in Scotland, the home of golf.

It was an epic win if only because Smith, the 28-year-old Australian with a wispy mustache and a flowing blond hair, decorated his wondrous one-shot triumph by stringing up five straight birdies from the 10th and capping it with an exclamation point by birdieing his 72nd hole via a gimme.

Smith’s six back-nine birdies gave him an improbable 30 for an incredible, bogey-free 64 windup at the tree-less links layout that is endlessly reverenced as nurtured and “maintained” by Mother Nature.

“I am here to win tournaments,” said Smith, who bucked the stigma of a third-round 73 that put him four strokes off Round Three co-leaders Rory McIlroy (solo third) of Northern Ireland and Viktor Hovland (tied for fourth) of Norway.

Another Cameron (Young of the US; they were flight mates) threatened to extend Smith to a playoff by eagling the par-4 18th for a share of the lead.

But before Young’s eclectic eagle came, Smith’s approach all but secured his win, the ball stopping 24 enigmatic inches off the cup.

Even Young himself absolutely knew of his defeat, saying: “Cameron would never miss a two-footer.”

In winning, Smith became the first Australian to win The Open since Greg Norman in 1993, and the first Aussie to win any major since Jason Day (his mother is a Filipina) won the PGA Championship in 2015.

And, as traditions go, Smith’s win on The Open’s 150th edition mimicked his fellow Aussie Ken Nagle’s victory in the event’s 100th anniversary in 1960.

What made Smith’s $2.5 million victory even sweeter was it broke by one stroke Tiger Woods’ 19-under-par total when Tiger won his first of two Open triumphs in 2000 at St. Andrews—the second coming in 2005.

Speaking of Woods, he missed the cutline at even par by nine shots with his 78-75, shedding tears as he crossed the famous Swilcan Bridge going to 18 amid the lusty cheers of a throng whose love and devotion to the 15-time majors winner has not waned one bit.

“I hope this won’t be my last at St. Andrews,” said Woods, who, by the grace of God, would be 51 by the time The Open returns to the Old Course—golf’s birthplace that Woods considers as “my favorite golf course.”

Such a saga lives on.

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