A landmark Championship at St Andrews culminated in a thrilling finish as Cameron Smith surged to victory in The 150th Open.
The 28-year-old Australian produced one of the great final rounds in major history, a sensational eight-under 64, to edge out playing partner Cameron Young by one and Rory McIlroy by two at the home of golf.
The Champion’s finishing score of 20-under-par was the joint-best score to par in Open history, matching Henrik Stenson’s winning mark at Royal Troon in 2016, and the lowest at St Andrews.
Smith also became the first Champion Golfer to shoot two rounds of 64 or better on his way to victory, with his superb display on Sunday providing a fitting end to a historic week that saw The Open’s attendance record smashed as 290,000 spectators flocked to the home of golf.
There was much to enjoy at St Andrews before the main event got under way, with a revised Celebration of Champions - featuring past winners of the Claret Jug as well as champions from women’s golf, the amateur game and disability golf – proving a huge success.
Warm and dry weather in the days and weeks leading up to The 150th Open made for firm and fast conditions at the Old Course and it was Young who set the initial pace when the Championship got under way.
His 64 was the best score of the opening day by two, but a pair of ominous figures lurked closely behind the PGA Tour rookie, with 2014 Champion Golfer McIlroy round in 66 and Smith signing for a 67.
Smith took over at the top in round two with a 64 of his own, on the day three-time Champion Tiger Woods received the most rapturous of ovations as he crossed the Swilcan Bridge in The Open for potentially the final time.
Yet as Smith faltered on Saturday, shooting a one-over 73, it was two European Ryder Cup team-mates who emphatically claimed centre stage, with McIlroy and Norway’s Viktor Hovland each shooting 66 to pull four clear of the field at 16 under.
Although neither man was at their best on Sunday, McIlroy nevertheless remained on course for a first major title in eight years as he reached the turn with the lead still in his hands.
Yet what followed was truly remarkable, as Smith reeled off five birdies in a row from the 10th, before superbly saving par from a tricky position on the 17th and then picking up another shot on the final hole to come home in 30 strokes.
His magnificent closing nine meant Young had to settle for second, despite a magnificent eagle on the 18th that brought him home in 31 and completed an admirable 65.
After missing a presentable birdie chance on 17, McIlroy needed to match Young’s eagle to force a play-off with Smith, but his aggressive attempt at chipping in for a two missed its target and a closing par left the home favourite third, with Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood four shots further back in fourth.