Cameron Smith’s mullet and moustache may not meet the approval of members at the Old Course, but the Australian’s golf had St Andrews in raptures as he claimed the Claret Jug in style on Sunday.
Smith’s first Major will be a hard one to match as the man from Brisbane produced a scintillating 64 when it mattered most to match an Open record of 20 under par.
“To win an Open Championship in itself is probably going to be a golfer’s highlight in their career,” said Smith. “To do it around St Andrews is just unbelievable.”
The stage appeared set for Rory McIlroy to end his eight-year wait to win another Major as the Northern Irishman shared the overnight lead with Viktor Hovland, four shots clear of Smith.
Despite not dropping a shot all day, the world No 2 was still two shots shy of the winning mark.
“I got beaten by the better player this week. To shoot 64 to win an Open Championship at St Andrews is one hell of a showing,” said McIlroy. “Hats off to Cam, he’s had an unbelievable week.”
Yet, Smith’s performance over the past four days was no shock from one of the best players in the world this year.
The 28-year-old won the Players’ Championship, considered the fifth Major, in March and set a new PGA record by winning the Tournament of Champions on 34 under par in January.
“The Players at the start of the year, with the best field in golf, to go away with the win was a really big confidence booster,” said Smith.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be too long before I got one of these. I’ve knocked on the door, I think, maybe one too many times now. So, it’s nice to get it done.”
As a rising star of the PGA Tour, Smith may soon find himself at the centre of golf’s civil war.
The shadow of the rebel LIV Golf tour hung over St Andrews early in the week with the last Australian to lift the Claret Jug, Greg Norman, uninvited to the champions’ dinner due to his role in helping launch the Saudi-backed project.
The exploits of Smith and McIlroy, one of LIV’s most outspoken critics, meant the focus was on the golf come Sunday with little prospect of a LIV winner.
Yet, Smith refused to quash speculation he could be the next big name tempted to take the huge signing-on fees offered to players to turn their backs on the traditional PGA and DP World Tours.
His immediate plan, though, is to fill the Claret Jug with as much beer as possible to toast his triumph at the home of golf.
“I’m going to guess two cans of beer,” he answered on how much it would take to fill. “I’ll probably have about 20 Claret Jugs.”
As for the mullet, his Jacksonville-based barber Lee Trevino, named after another golfing great, will not have a big job on Smith’s return to the States.
“I think it’s going to stay.”
© Agence France-Presse