ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – "With a score of 268, the winner of the gold medal and the Champion Golfer of the Year, is Cameron Smith."
At 7 p.m. local time, right on the dot, one man was receiving the claret jug while another was recounting the reasons why he did not.
“I tried to stay as patient as possible, and I kept hitting good putts. I hit a good putt on 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. I was hitting good putts. They just weren't dropping,” lamented Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy hit 18 greens in regulation on Sunday of the 150th Open Championship. He two-putted them all. There were two birdies in his 2-under 70, one thanks to a two-putt on the par-5 fifth. One thanks to a two-putt after driving the par-4 10th.
Full-field scores from the 150th Open Championship
As McIlroy languished on the greens, inches from birdie after birdie, Smith was rolling them in with ease, making eight on his way to a 64 and a one-shot victory over Cameron Young (65).
McIlroy, the 54-hole co-leader, finished solo third.
“Disappointed, obviously,” he said. “I felt like I didn't do much wrong today, but I didn't do much right either.”
While he managed to hit every green, he couldn’t get his approach shots close to the hole. Following his birdie at the 10th, which allowed him a two-shot lead over a surging Smith, McIlroy didn’t have a birdie putt less than 14 feet coming in – three of them over 40 feet. Still, he managed to burn edges and was never in danger of dropping a shot. He just couldn’t pick up any.
“It's hard, like, there's a lot of putts today where I couldn't just trust myself to start it inside the hole,” he said. “I was always starting it on the edge or just outside thinking it was going to move. More times than not, they just sort of stayed there.”