‘It’s one that I feel like I let slip away’: Rory McIlroy close to tears as he suffers yet another near miss in his bid to win a first major since 2014 at The Open… but admits Cameron Smith produced a ‘really impressive’ performance to win
- Cameron Smith produced a stunning display to win 150th Open Championship
- The Australian inflicted more major misery on a shell-shocked Rory McIlroy
- McIlroy suffered another near miss in his bid to win a first major since 2014
- He ended up finishing third behind Smith and Cameron Young at St Andrews
Rory McIlroy was close to tears after admitting he let The Open ‘slip away’ in a thrilling final-day at St Andrews that eventually saw Australia’s Cameron Smith lift the Claret Jug.
McIlroy was left needing to chip in for eagle at the last to force a play-off, but it never got close as he suffered the pain of yet another near-miss in his bid to win a first major since 2014.
His closing loop of 70 left him two short of Smith, who came from four back overnight to card an exceptional 64 and a record-equalling 20-under-par total to claim victory.
Rory McIlroy was close to tears after admitting he let The Open ‘slip away’ on the final day
Australia’s Cameron Smith lifted the Claret Jug after an impressive performance at St Andrews
The newly-crowned Champion Golfer later refused to deny reports he might join the Saudi-backed LIV series.
Finishing third behind Smith and Cameron Young, McIlroy said: ‘I’m disappointed obviously.
‘I felt like I didn’t do much wrong today, but I didn’t do much right either. I got beaten by a better player this week. A 20-under par for four rounds of golf around here is really, really impressive.
McIlroy finished third in the end behind Smith and American Cameron Young at The Open
‘I’ll be okay. At the end of the day, it’s not life or death. I’ll have other chances to win the Open Championship and other chances to win majors. It’s one that I feel like I let slip away, but there will be other opportunities.’
While McIlroy achieved his third top-five finish in a major this year, and has not finished outside the top eight in all four, it was undoubtedly another missed opportunity to stop the clock having led by three through 10 holes.
He had succeeded in shrugging off the threat of his 54-hole co-leader Viktor Hovland, but when Smith went on a five-birdie blitz in successive holes from the 10th, McIlroy, in the group behind, paid the price for too many missed putts.
McIlroy paid the price in the end for too many missed putts, as Smith went on a five-birdie blitz
McIlroy said: ‘I can’t be too despondent because of how this year’s went and this year’s going.
‘I’m playing some of the best golf I’ve played in a long time. So it’s just a matter of keep knocking on the door, and eventually one will open. I just have to dust myself off and come again and keep working hard and keep believing.
‘Coming down 14, I knew that I needed to respond to Cam. I just couldn’t find the shots or the putts to do that. The putter just went a little cold today compared to the last three days.’
Mcilroy added: ‘My hotel room is directly opposite the big yellow board on 18. And every time I go out, I’m trying to envision “McIlroy” at the top name on that leaderboard and how did that feel? At the start of the day, it was at the top, but at the start of tomorrow, it won’t be. You’ve got to let yourself dream.’
For Smith, whose 20-under total was jointly the best recorded at a major, the win represents his first title at one of golf’s four biggest tournaments.
The 150th Open represents Smith’s first title at one of golf’s four biggest tournaments
The 28-year-old said: ‘I think, to win an Open Championship in itself is probably going to be a golfer’s highlight in their career. To do it around St Andrews, I think is just unbelievable.’
Asked how he would celebrate, Smith said: ‘I’ll probably have about 20 Claret Jugs (of beer).’
With 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama understood to be close to joining LIV, and with persistent rumours around European Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson, Smith was asked if he might sign up with the rebels.
Ominously, he stopped short of a denial, saying: ‘I just won the British Open, and you’re asking about that. I think that’s not that good. I don’t know, mate.
‘My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.’
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