Australia’s Cameron Smith is proof that self-belief can overcome crushing obstacles*, after the Queensland golfer won the 150th British Open on Monday at St Andrews in Scotland. Smith’s stunning final round of 64 saw him overtake Northern Ireland’s competition favourite Rory McIlroy on a dramatic day to claim his first major title with a 20-under-par* total.
Smith began the day four shots off the lead and McIlroy was still two shots clear and in control when Smith’s birdie* surge began. Smith needed something special and the world number six delivered eight birdies — including five in a row — without dropping a shot.
The eight-under-par fourth round allowed him to win by a single stroke ahead of American Cameron Young, while McIlroy finished third.
Smith’s final score 20-under par matched the lowest total in any golf championship and broke Tiger Woods’ record at St Andrews, known as “the home of golf”.
A devoted* Queensland rugby league supporter, Smith said he adopted the same approach as the Maroons’ State of Origin decider last week.
“You’ve got to try and win – that’s what we’re all here to do,” he said.
“I love this type of golf. I think this type of golf suits a lot of Aussies, the firm and fast fairways*. Having to hit away from pins* … is another one, where Aussies are brought up doing that.”
“To win an Open Championship in itself is going to be a golfer’s highlight but to do it around St Andrews is unbelievable.
“This place is so cool. I love the golf course and the town.”
McIlroy said he’d let the win slip from his grasp but gave credit to Smith.
“I got beaten by a better player this week,” McIlroy said. “20-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’ll have other chances to win the Open Championship and other chances to win majors.”
At just 28, Smith is the first Australian in almost three decades to win the British Open since Greg Norman claimed his second Claret Jug* at England’s Royal St George’s Golf Club in 1993.
The Brisbane native with the trademark* mullet is also the third Australian to win the Open at historic St Andrews, after Peter Thomson in 1955 and Kel Nagle, who won the Open in 1960.
Smith’s only regret was that his father Des wasn’t in Scotland to see him win in person.
“I had a quick chat with him before, but he’s definitely kicking himself now,” Smith said. “I really wish he was here too.
“It would have been such a cool week, even without this, to be at the home of golf. Dad loves his golf as well. It would have been awesome.”
Smith became just the fifth Australian to win the golf world’s oldest and most prestigious* major, joining Peter Thomson (5 wins), Kel Nagle (1), Greg Norman (2) and Ian-Baker Finch (1).
“It’s unreal to look at the names on this trophy and then see mine … I’m lost for words,” Smith said. “The course was exactly how an Open championship should be played.
“I had a lot of support out there, especially the Aussie guys. You guys really kept me going out there. This one’s for Oz.”
Additional reporting by AFP
- obstacles: something that stops progress or makes something more difficult
- under-par: every hole on a golf course has a par rating matched to difficulty; under-par means the golfer has finished the hole in fewer shots than standard
- birdie: scoring one stroke less than the par set on any given hole on a golf course
- devoted: loyal, affectionate, strongly attached to someone or something
- fairway: closely mown area of grass between the tee and the green on a golf hole
- pin: another name for the flagstick marking the location of the hole on the putting green
- Claret Jug: the British Open championship trophy
- trademark: emblem, signature or symbol of something that identifies it in unique way
- prestigious: highly respected and admired, usually for being important or of high quality
- How many birdies did Smith deliver in the fourth round?
- What is the name of the British Open trophy?
- Prior to Smith’s win, who was the last Australian to win the championship and in which year?
- Which other Australians have won the title playing at historic St Andrews?
- Who was the favourite going into the tournament and where did he finish on the final day?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. New Aussie champ
Cameron Smith has won his first major golf tournament and it was a big one. How do you think he would’ve been feeling when he was four shots from the lead on the final day?
What do you think led him to keep believing in himself and still aiming to win the tournament?
Have you learnt what these golf terms mean?
How do you think this win will change Cameron’s life?
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education; Critical and Creative Thinking
Write a letter or decorate a card to send to Cameron congratulating him on this milestone win. Give him some feedback on how reading this article or seeing his win on the news and in newspapers made you feel.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Personal and Social
Can’t wait to share the news!
Imagine the phone call that Cameron made to his dad after he won. Do you think he rang up and started his recount of events with, “On the weekend …” or, “It was a bright sunny day when I headed out to play golf in the British Open”?
I don’t think so – I think it was more likely he was screaming down the phone with excitement. Yet when we write a recount, we often start way back at the boring details and it can take ages to get to the good stuff.
Create three different openers for Cameron’s recount of his golf championship. Think about three different, exciting events that could be used to capture the audience’s attention. Share all of them with the person beside you, and discuss which works best and why. Is it the same event that works best for their openers as well? Why/why not?
Can you start your next story right in the excitement?