Cameron Smith rallies to win British Open for his first major

The mullet. The mallet.

The rocker-looking Cameron Smith, draining putt after putt, made a dramatic run Sunday on the back nine of the Old Course — five birdies in a row — to overtake fan favorite Rory McIlroy and hold off American Cameron Young to win the 150th British Open.

It was the first major championship for Smith, who became the first Australian to win the Claret Jug since Greg Norman in 1986.

“What a week. I’m going to fall apart here I know,” an emotional Smith said during the trophy presentation. Raising the Claret Jug with his voice cracking, he thanked his team for its hard work and said, “This one definitely makes it worth it.”

Norman, the CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, was asked by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews not to attend this year’s tournament even though he’s a two-time winner. His role in the upstart league is that controversial.

The Open leaderboard featured twin overhead Cams: Smith shot a bogey-free 64, Young a 65.

Smith birdied 18 to go to 20-under-par 268, meaning McIlroy would have to eagle it to force a playoff. His eagle chip bounced past the hole.

Meanwhile, Young, who was playing with Smith, eagled the 18th hole to move into second.

Before the tournament, the affable Smith said he would cut his signature mullet if he were to win, but immediately seemed to back off that prospect.

“I’ve always said that if I won a tournament or did something good, I would cut it off,” he said. “And I’ve done that a couple times this year, and it’s still on there.

“So I’d like to say I would cut it off, but it’s probably not going to happen. I feel like it’s almost a part of me now. Like you said, people recognize the hair and makes a few people laugh.”

McIlroy and Viktor Hovland, who both shot 66 on Saturday, started the Sunday round with a four-shot lead over Cameron Smith and Young.

Hovland had seven pars and a bogey on the front nine, and McIlroy started to pull away, building a two-shot cushion.

Smith trailed by three strokes at the turn, but then went birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie as he turned for home.

McIlroy had several near-miss putts on the back nine but couldn’t quite get a birdie to fend off Smith. The Australian overtook him on the 14th hole.

McIlroy is still hunting for that elusive fifth major, having fallen just short on multiple occasions after winning four early in his career. He hasn’t won one in the 29 majors since his PGA Championship victory in 2014. He also won the British Open that year, a PGA Championship in 2012 and the U.S. Open in 2011.

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