One might think that when you play the final round of a major championship and hit every green in regulation — you’d have a decent chance to win.
That wasn’t the case for Rory McIlroy on a birdie-filled Sunday at The Old Course — with the 150th Open Championship there for the taking, McIlroy suffered from a bout of birdie-deficiency over the final eight holes and let Cam Smith walk off with the Claret Jug.
One important stat told the tale of two rounds — Cam had just 29 putts on his way to an incredible back nine 30 and an eight-under par 64 — lowest final round ever in an Open Championship at St. Andrews. Smith’s reward was his first major championship.
As for Rory, the crowd began to sense what was happening and things grew eerily quiet over the final six holes. McIlroy had eight pars and a birdie over his first nine holes, then birdied 10 to go 18-under par. With birdie holes in front of him, he was looking good.
But up ahead, Smith went on a tear — he make five straight starting at the 10th and by the 13th hole, he went 18-under to tie McIlroy. Another birdie at the par five 14th got him to 19-under and on his way to the championship.
Rory’s downfall came from pars at 12 and 14 — un-difficult birdie opportunities.
“I didn’t do much wrong today but I didn’t do much right either,” McIlroy lamented after closing 70 that left him in third place behind Smith and Cameron Young.
“It’s just one of those days where I played a really controlled round of golf. I did what I felt like I needed to just apart from capitalizing on the easier holes — around the turn, 9, 12, 14. If I had made the birdies there from good positions, it probably would have been a different story,” he said, recalling those missed opportunities.
“But, look, I got beaten by a better player this week. Twenty-under par for four rounds of golf around here is really, really impressive playing, especially to go out and shoot 64 today to get it done. I wish that I had hit it a little closer with some approach shots, and I wish I’d have holed a couple more putts. I missed an opportunity on three and I had sort of half looks on six and nine.”
McIlroy’s putter was just a bit off. He grazed the lips with a number of putts but his reads were just a bit off. “The putter just went a little cold today compared to the last three days. I tried to stay as patient as possible, and I kept hitting good putts. They just weren’t dropping.”
Kupcho-Salas Run Away With Team Title:
Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas were simply too tough for the rest of the field as they closed with a best-ball, nine-under par 61 on Saturday to run away with the title at the LPGA’s team event — the Great Lakes Invitational.
Kupcho and Salas, who went 2-0-1 as Solheim Cup partners, finished 26-under par, five clear of runners-up Matilda Castren and Kelly Tan at Midland Country Club.
“It was amazing to be alongside Lizette,” Kupcho said. “I think I was a little nervous coming into today just because I didn’t want to let her down. I’m sure she probably felt the same way.”
Kupcho won for the third time this year while Salas won her second tour title.
“It’s been a long time,” Salas said. “I couldn’t have done it without her. She’s a great competitor, a great friend, and an amazing partner on the golf course. We played some amazing golf this week. My job was – or my goal was – to play well for her. We showcased how our games can complement each other.”
“We were clicking all week,” Kupcho said. “I think we just have a lot of faith in each other. We make each other comfortable. So we just know that if we mess up the other person has got us. That has worked really well for us.”