By E Michael Johnson
It wasn’t the Duel in the Sun and it wasn’t Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. That said, Rory McIlroy and Cameron Smith (Cam Young, too) put on one heckuva show at the 150th Open Championship with Smith prevailing at the Old Course at St Andrews.
Starting the day four shots behind Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland, Smith was still in arrears as he made the turn. No one realised the Aussie was about to go on a heater.
Smith birdied the 10th and 11th to get within one. Moments later McIlroy made a great two-putt from 126 feet to make birdie on No. 10 to stretch the lead to two over Smith. Smith, however, birdied 12 for his third in a row to get back to one then smacked a nice iron from 187 yards on No. 13 then rolled in a 18-foot birdie putt for his fourth birdie in a row to tie McIlroy.
The Aussie used his flat stick again to his advantage with an amazing two-putt up and over the front mound on the par-5 14th from 87 feet for his fifth birdie in a row to take the lead by one and kept that lead with a splendid 10-foot par putt on the 17th hole and one final birdie with a fantastic two-putt birdie from the Valley of Sin at the 18th to close out a final-round 64.
Smith drove the ball well all week with the Titleist TSR3 driver he recently put in play, but it was his irons and especially his putting that served him well on the Old Course’s massive greens.
Smith had a pair of Mizuno utility irons to go along with his Titleist T-100 irons. Unlike the main production model, Smith has his irons in all black, including the heads and black KBS Tour 130x shafts. The grips are Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet Super Tack. In all, Smith hit 17 of 18 greens on Sunday.
His putter is a Scotty Cameron by Titleist 009M (which stands for Masterful) tour prototype blade with a slant neck. The club went into the bag at this year’s Sony Open in Hawaii and is the same one Smith used to win the Players Championship.
Smith seemed prescient in his presser the night before the final round, seemingly knowing he would need to get hot with the putter to have a chance.
“I love making birdies. I love making putts,” he said. “That’s what I need to go out there and do tomorrow. I need to stay aggressive. Maybe a slightly different game plan off a couple of tees and just try and make a ton of birdies.”
What Cameron Smith had in the bag at the 2022 Open Championship:
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist TSR3 (Fujikura Ventus TR Blue 60x), 10 degrees
3-wood: Titleist TSi2, 15 degrees
Irons (3-4): Mizuno Pro Fli-Hi; (5-9): Titleist T100; (PW): Titleist Vokey SM9
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (52, 56 degrees); Titleist Vokey WedgeWorks, 60 degrees
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist 009M tour prototype
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