Cameron Smith has vowed he will come forward when he has any announcement to make on his future, although the world number two is reported to have already agreed to join the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Smith is the Open champion and would represent another major coup for the breakaway golf league.

Fellow Australian Cameron Percy indicated Smith would be joining LIV Golf this week, telling RSN Radio that the 28-year-old and Marc Leishman were "gone".

Smith subsequently responded to these claims in a news conference ahead of the FedEx St. Jude Championship on Tuesday.

"My goal here is to win the FedEx Cup play-offs," he said. "That's all I'm here for.

"If there's something I need to say regarding the PGA Tour or LIV, it will come from Cameron Smith, not Cameron Percy.

"I'm a man of my word, and whenever you guys need to know anything, it will be said by me.

"Like I said, I'm here to play the FedEx Cup play-offs. That's been my focus the last week and a half, that's what I'm here to do. I'm here to win the FedEx Cup play-offs."

However, Wednesday brought an exclusive report from The Telegraph claiming Smith had signed a $100million-plus deal with LIV Golf.

The report says an initial offer of around $100m was made to Smith ahead of The Open, but he is set to be boosted by his new status as a major winner.

An announcement, The Telegraph said, would likely follow the FedEx Cup play-offs, with Smith second in the standings.

Around this time a year ago, the pervasive narrative surrounding Tony Finau was that of a PGA Tour star who just couldn't find a way to close. Time and again, the Utah native would charge up weekend leaderboards only to come up short at the end. 

"They say a winner is just a loser that just kept on trying, and that's me to a T," he said. "How many times do I lose?"

The answer? Well, let's put it this way: he hasn't been losing much these days.

After winning just once in his first 188 career starts, Finau now finds himself on the heels of back-to-back wins at the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic. Add in his breakthrough victory in last season's FedEx Cup opener, and the Salt Lake City resident has found the winner's circle three times in his last 25 starts.

Suffice to say, the narrative has changed.

"I put myself in situations to win before, haven't been able to do it, but I'm very optimistic," Finau said. "I've always been that way. I've always had hope and faith that things will turn out if I just keep working hard and putting myself there. 

"I challenge myself every week to just push past what I feel like I'm capable of; by that I mean just my emotions, those hurdles that you face during a tournament. I proved to myself these last couple weeks that I've done that and won some golf tournaments. I'm proud of the way that I fought through adversity through my career and now I'm a back-to-back champion. That's what happens."

At the 3M Open, he erased a five-shot deficit with 11 holes to play after overnight leader Scott Piercy tripled the 14th hole. It was much smoother a week later, as the 32-year-old cruised to a five-shot triumph and a tournament record 26-under 262 total. 

Finau hit a career-best 66 greens in regulation in that second victory, which also marked the third-most by a winner on the PGA Tour since 1980. Aaron Wise and Hale Irwin matched that feat at the 2018 Byron Nelson and 1981 Sony Open, respectively, while Peter Jacobsen holds the record with 69 greens in regulation at the 1995 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Willie Wood hit 67 greens en route to the 1996 Sanderson Farms Championship.

His precision netted Finau a plus-4.65 stroke differential from the field average, his highest difference during an event on the PGA Tour. It barely edged out the career-best he set just a week prior at the 3M Open (plus-4.37) and safely beat his next-best marks of plus-3.70 (2021 St. Jude Championship) and plus-2.73, set at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, site of his first Tour victory.

Xander does it, too 

But Finau wasn't the only player making significant moves in July. Though his triumphs didn't come in consecutive weeks, Xander Schauffele also managed to find the winner's circle in back-to-back appearances.

After winning the Travelers Championship in late June, the former gold medallist travelled across the pond and did it all over again in his next start at the Scottish Open. He became the third player to pick up at least three wins this season (Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns are the others) and is one of three players to win this year in consecutive starts (Scheffler and Finau).

But how Schauffele did it may be the most impressive aspect. The San Diego native trailed by a whopping 11 strokes after the opening round, marking the largest 18-hole deficit overcome by a PGA Tour winner in a four-round event in the last 39 years. Seven other players rallied from 10-shot deficits – most recently Webb Simpson at the 2020 Phoenix Open – but no one overcame the odds that Schauffele did.

"Overall, I'm playing some of the best golf of my life and capitalising on playing really well," Schauffele said. "There's a lot of times [when] professionals play very well but don't get everything out of it, and I feel like I've been successful in getting the most out of my game."

Together, Schauffele and Finau became the fifth and six players to win back-to-back tournaments on Tour since the start of the 2016-17 season, joining Patrick Cantlay, Brendon Todd, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas.

Cam double-dips

Being able to call yourself The Players champion is one of the most prestigious honuors in golf. The biggest names in the sport have all done it, from Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods to Rory McIlroy.

But add in a victory at The Open Championship and you're in unprecedented territory.

That's exactly what Australian Cameron Smith did in July at golf's oldest championship, edging out McIlroy at St Andrews to win the Claret Jug. He became just the second player in history to win The Players and Open Championship in the same year, joining none other than Nicklaus. He, too, also won his major at the historic St Andrews after winning The Players earlier in 1978.

It wasn't Smith's only achievement that week. No winner had ever closed with a 64 at St Andrews before he did it, while his finishing score of 20-under 268 set a new Old Course record. It tied the lowest score to par in major championship history – Henrik Stenson shot 20 under at Royal Troon in 2016 – and his back-nine 30 was the lowest ever by an Open Championship winner.

"I got beaten by the better player this week," McIlroy said. "To go out and shoot 64 to win The Open Championship at St Andrews is a hell of a showing. Hats off to Cam."

Smith is the first Australian to win the Claret Jug since 1993 and the first to do it at St Andrews since Kel Nagle staved off Arnold Palmer in 1960.

"Those guys are great players. They weren't going to give it to me. I had to take it," Smith said. "It was a good thing that I was behind. My mindset would have been a touch different coming in, especially on that back nine, if I was ahead."

Cameron Smith may be swayed by the lucrative financial offer from the LIV Golf International Series, but must consider whether he will enjoy competing on the breakaway tour.

That is the message from former Ryder Cup captain Mark James, who acknowledged the financial benefits of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf but was unsure of the merits of a competition still in its infancy.

Smith secured his first major title at the historic 150th Open Championship last weekend, triumphing ahead of Cameron Young and Rory McIlroy on the picturesque Old Course at St Andrews.

While lauded for the blemish-free final round that ensured Open glory, speculation grew that Smith may become the next high-profile defector to LIV Golf, the tournament headed by Greg Norman.

Smith refused to comment on the matter as he celebrated at St Andrews, remaining non-committal on his future as he expressed his disappointment with the line of questioning following his Open victory.

Though James, a 32-time professional winner, appreciated the lucrative offers LIV Golf are making to secure the PGA Tour's prized assets, he warned Smith to think carefully about his future.

"I would imagine right now they're weighing up his contracts, weighing up what you'll get for playing the LIV Golf Tour and what you'll get for playing around the world and having all these contracts," James told Stats Perform.

"And I mean, yeah, they might pay him. They would have to pay him I would think 100 million to play LIV Golf Tour compared to winning the Open and having all those contracts, maybe more.

"I don't know, I'm a bit out of touch with the big money game these days. But that means you don't have to work the rest of your life, even at his age 100 million will go a long way.

"But he's going to be playing, is he going to be playing with his mind on the golf? Is he going to really enjoy it? I don't know.

"I think there's a lot of question marks over this tour. And it will be interesting to see what the outcome is."

Henrik Stenson relinquished his Ryder Cup captaincy after becoming the next big-name signing for LIV Golf, announced on Wednesday alongside Jason Kokrak and Charles Howell III.

The breakaway league already has the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, with every defector banned from playing on the PGA Tour as retaliation to their move away.

And James, who had a long career on the European Tour and has played on the US-based Champions Tour in senior golf, does not envisage LIV Golf succeeding, likening the tournaments to "exhibition events". 

"They've gone in extremely heavy-handedly LIV Golf," he added. "But then I suppose if they're trying to take players away from the two major tours, they have to because the two majors are so protective of their product.

"But I agree with the two main tours, I think they have to be and I think the two main tours are brilliant for golf, because they have a pyramid system on both tours where anyone who's any good will make it to the top. It is that simple.

"Whereas, if LIV Golf were in charge, then that would not be the case. We'll see if they're still talking at the end of the year. Maybe something can be thrashed out and both tours can end a little sooner and have some big jamboree at the end of the year for six, eight weeks for anyone who wants to play.

"Certain events might be better suited but LIV Golf seems to want to take over the whole thing. And I think those tournaments are not good for golf right now. They're basically exhibition events.

"People are getting paid crazy amounts of money and there's a lot of animosity between current tour players and the LIV Golf players. So it's not a great situation. And I don't think LIV Golf have handled it well. 

"I'm not sure Norman is a particularly good spokesman because they've taken him out in the press to a large extent, because he wasn't really voicing what Saudi wants someone to say.

"But, equally, I think that the pros from the tours who signed up with LIV Golf have not exactly been eloquent in defence of LIV Golf. So the whole thing, I think, is a little shambolic.

"But as I say, if you want to take golf by the scruff of the neck and make an impression on the main tour players, then maybe this is the only way to try and do it."

LIV Golf will reveal the identities of another three players who have signed up to the breakaway series "in the next few days".

Cameron Smith did not rule out making the move to LIV Golf after winning his first major with a sensational final round at The Open on Sunday.

The Australian snapped at a reporter at St Andrews when asked if he could defect to LIV, saying: "I just won the British Open and you're asking about that? I think that's not that good."

When asked again, he said: "I don't know, mate. My team around me worries about all that stuff. I'm here to win golf tournaments."

Henrik Stenson is expected to join the Saudi-backed series, a decision that is set to see the Swede be stripped of his role as Europe's Ryder Cup captain.

Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Bubba Watson have also been linked with switches to LIV Golf.

Paul Casey will make his debut in the LIV Golf Invitational Bedminster, an event staged from July 29-31 at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

 

Newly crowned Open champion Cameron Smith said he was just "here to win golf tournaments" as he declined to say whether he could soon join the breakaway LIV Golf Invitational Series.

The Australian was asked about the prospect in a news conference after landing the first major of his career on Sunday, pipping Cameron Young by one shot and Rory McIlroy by two at St Andrews.

It remains to be seen whether Smith has been tempted by the prospect of signing up for the lucrative, Saudi-backed breakaway competition.

He was not open to giving a direct answer when asked whether there was truth behind rumours he could defect to LIV Golf.

"I just won the British Open, and you're asking about that. I think that's pretty not that good," Smith said.

When asked to answer the question one way or another, Smith replied: "I don't know, mate. My team around me worries about all that stuff. I'm here to win golf tournaments."

The 28-year-old would be joining the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood if he joins LIV Golf.

Big incentives are on offer for committing to play in the new series, along with hefty prize purses.

Critics of LIV Golf have claimed it is an attempt at "sportswashing" by the Saudi Arabia regime, attempting to improve the country's image amid allegations of human rights violations.

The PGA Tour and DP World Tour have come out in opposition to the series, as have a number of leading players, including Tiger Woods and McIlroy.

Smith's fellow Australian Greg Norman is CEO of LIV Golf.

Norman also happened to be the last Australian winner of the Open until Smith's sublime closing 64 at the home of golf saw him vault to the top of the leaderboard and lift the Claret Jug.

In a congratulatory Twitter message to Smith, Norman, the 1986 and 1993 Open winner, wrote: "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi! A spectacular final round mate. A triumph for you and for Australia as the first Australian to win in 29 years. You’re in good company."

Open champion Cameron Smith revealed his third-round slump provided all the incentive he needed to get his act together and claim victory with a stunning 64 at St Andrews on Sunday. 

The leader after 36 holes, it was widely thought Smith had blown his chances with a scruffy 73 on Saturday which left him four shots adrift of leading duo Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.

However, a run of five birdies in a row after the turn in his final round put Smith in the ascendancy and he never looked back, showing nerves of steel to save par on 17 before making another gain at the last to render playing partner Cameron Young's eagle immaterial. 

The Australian roared to his maiden major after undercutting crowd favourite McIlroy's Sunday score by six strokes, while he was a huge 10 shots better than Hovland across the concluding 18 holes.

Speaking about Saturday's backslide, Smith – who finished on 20 under, a shot ahead of Young – said: "I think I was really frustrated with how the round went.

"I just really put it down to links golf. I think you really have those days on these courses where you get a bit of a weird bounce here and there and puts you in a bad spot.

"So, I shrugged it off pretty good, I think, last night. I really didn't dwell on it too much.

"But to go out there and really stick my head down and keep making birdies and keep making putts, yeah, it was really cool. I think that [Saturday's disappointment] definitely helped."

Smith will have to wait before he can properly celebrate with his close family and friends, as his dad made what proved to be an ill-advised decision not to head over to Fife to see his son in action at the 150th Open Championship.

"I don't have any family here. I've got all my team here," he said. 

"My dad was actually meant to come over, and he pulled out in the last minute basically. I had a quick chat with him before. He's kicking himself now.

"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."

The Champion Golfer of the Year – whose score of 268 is a record in an Open at St Andrews – had some warm words of praise for McIlroy, who missed out on a second Claret Jug and first major since 2014.

"He's obviously a great player," said Smith after finishing two strokes clear of the Northern Irishman.

"He's one of those guys that you can't help but stop when he's hitting balls on the range, and he just keeps knocking on doors every week, it seems like.

"He's probably the most consistent player out here.

"He's going to get a major, I'm sure, very soon. He's just really solid. For me, I've played with Rory a few times, and there's really nothing that you can fault."

Asked about the mullet hairstyle that makes him so distinctive and whether he would keep it, the 28-year-old added: "I think it's going to stay, mate!"

Cameron Smith struggled to find the words to describe his first major victory but said he achieved "something I've always dreamt of" after triumphing at The Open.

The Australian lifted the Claret Jug following a wonderful final-round 64 at St Andrews, which saw him finish on 20 under par.

Smith headed into the final round on Sunday four shots back from the leading duo of Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.

Yet an impressive streak of gains on five consecutive holes after the turn saw him leap to the summit on 19 under.

He then held his nerve as the pressure intensified, saving par with a tricky putt on the 17th before a birdie on the last saw him edge out playing partner Cameron Young by one stroke and McIlroy by two.

Smith, who joined the likes of Tiger Woods and Seve Ballesteros in lifting the Claret Jug at St Andrews, revealed his pride at triumphing on the 150th anniversary of the Open on the iconic Old Course.

"First and foremost, I want to thank the team," he told Sky Sports. "All the hard work we've done over the last couple of years is really starting to pay off. This one definitely makes it worth it.

"It was just absolutely awesome out there. The course was exactly how an Open Championship should be played; firm and fast, tough pins. It was just unreal.

"I had a lot of support out there, especially the Aussie guys – you guys really kept me going out there. This one is for Oz!

"It's just unreal. This place is so cool. To have the 150th Open here and walk away with the win, it's something I've always dreamt of. I didn't even know I was going to get this far, it's just awesome.

"To look at these names on this trophy and then add mine, it's unreal, I'm lost for words. I'm definitely going to find out how many beers fit in this thing, that's for sure!"

Rory McIlroy admitted he had allowed himself to dream of Open Championship glory before Cameron Smith snatched the Claret Jug away at St Andrews.

Northern Irishman McIlroy had the bulk of the crowd support as he attempted to win a fifth major, and a first in eight years, but he could not convert a lead into victory.

Having started the day in a share of first place with Viktor Hovland, McIlroy at one stage powered into a two-stroke lead at 17 under par, yet charging Australian Smith surged past him after a run of five birdies from 10 to 14, and that was that.

McIlroy attempted to respond but found little, accepting his putter had gone cold once he completed a two-under round of 70 to reach 18 under for the championship, enough only for third place. American Cameron Young sneaked up to second, one behind Smith whose closing 64 gave him a 20-under winning score.

McIlroy said: "It's not life or death. I'll have other chances to win the Open Championship and other chances to win majors. It's one that I feel like I let slip away, but there will be other opportunities."

He had wondered how it would feel to again win The Open, having triumphed in 2014 at Royal Liverpool.

"Of course. I'm only human. I'm not a robot," the 33-year-old said.

"Of course, you think about it, and you envision it, and you want to envision it. My hotel room is directly opposite the big yellow board on 18. Every time I go out, I'm trying to envision McIlroy at the top name on that leaderboard and how did that feel?

"At the start of the day, it was at the top, but at the start of tomorrow, it won't be. Of course you have to let yourself dream. You've got to let yourself think about it and what it would be like, but once I was on the golf course, it was just the task at hand and trying to play the best golf I possibly could."

McIlroy felt he played well on Sunday until it came to capitalising on chances, particularly in the middle part of the round when many, as Smith showed, made significant gains.

"I wish that I had hit it a little closer with some approach shot shots, and I wish I'd have holed a couple more putts," he said. "The putter just went a little cold today compared to the last three days.

"I've just got to keep putting myself in position, keep putting myself in there. And whenever you put yourself in that shining light, you're going to have to deal with setbacks and deal with failures. Today is one of those times. But I just have to dust myself off and come again and keep working hard and keep believing."

He said he was "beaten by a better player this week".

"But it's been a good week overall," said the world number two. "I can't be too despondent because of how this year's going. I'm playing some of the best golf I've played in a long time. So it's just a matter of keep knocking on the door, and eventually one will open."

Cameron Young admitted his eagle at the last actually made his near miss at The Open a little harder to take.

The American sunk a putt for a two at the 72nd hole, but playing partner Cameron Smith etched his name onto the Claret Jug with a birdie moments later, sealing victory after starting the day four shots behind leading duo Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.

Young finished on 19 under, one stroke behind Smith, while crowd favourite McIlroy ended up third on 18 under after a closing 70 – five worse than Young's final round, and six more than the imperious Smith. 

His last-hole heroics had given Young a glimmer of hope that a play-off might be forthcoming, though he did not expect the on-song Smith to fluff his lines at St Andrews.

"No, Cameron was not going to miss that," he said.

"It probably hurts a little worse to come up one shot short. If you lose by eight you don't really care.

"But I played well. I would have signed up for 65 this morning, and to watch Cameron shoot what he did, it was pretty amazing. I had a front-row seat to I'm sure one of the better rounds that's been played this year.

"And we both started four back of two guys that are capable of as much if not more than just about everybody else in the world.

"I know Cameron Smith's ranked very highly in the world. I don't know exactly what, but I imagine top five or six. And this kind of just is more proof that he is that good and he is one of the very, very best players in the world."

Young was pleased with how he dealt with the pressure of being in the mix on the final day of a major and hopes to keep putting himself in that position.

"I think I handled it pretty well," he said.

"At this point – not as much as some of those other guys – but I've at least been around the lead a lot this year, so it's not the first time I've been in that situation.

"I think I said at the PGA one of these times I'll shoot five under on the back nine and that will be enough, and here I did that and it wasn't.

"I guess one of these times I'll shoot six on the back nine on Sunday and that will be enough!"

Cameron Smith surged to victory at The Open with a stunning final-round 64, edging out Rory McIlroy and Cameron Young to claim his first major.

The Australian started Sunday's round four shots back from leading duo McIlroy and Viktor Hovland but kept his cool to triumph over Young by one stroke on a thrilling day at St Andrews, finishing on 20 under.

He extinguished McIlroy's hopes of ending an eight-year major drought at the 150th edition of golf's oldest major, where record crowds were treated to a memorable tournament, even if they were denied the champion the majority wanted to see lift the Claret Jug.

McIlroy's closing 70, during which he passed up a series of birdie chances, was only enough for third spot as Young eagled the last to take second and Hovland faded to finish six shots off the pace, alongside Tommy Fleetwood.

The focus initially was firmly on the final pairing, who sat on a four-shot advantage, and it was Hovland who blinked first, three-putting for a bogey five on the fourth and McIlroy's lead was two when he birdied the fifth. 

But as Hovland stalled, it was Smith who led the charge of the chasing pack, making gains in five consecutive holes after the turn to move to the summit on 19 under. 

He showed nerves of steel to hole a tricky putt for par on the 17th and then made a birdie at the last after Young had found the hole for an eagle.

That left McIlroy needing a two at the par-four last to force a play-off as fans poured onto the 18th fairway at the home of golf, but he could only manage a par as a new major champion was crowned.

 

Rory McIlroy said he and co-leader Viktor Hovland "fed off each other" in a thrilling third-round pairing at the Open Championship.

The duo each carded 66s on moving day at St Andrews to share the 54-hole lead on 16 under par, four shots ahead of nearest rivals Cameron Smith and Cameron Young.

McIlroy's stunning hole-out eagle from the bunker on 10 was the highlight of his round, though he gave a shot back on 17th after clattering into the wall down the right side of the notoriously tricky Road Hole.

A pair of birdies at the last ensured McIlroy and Hovland will head out on Sunday level pegging in pursuit of the Claret Jug at the landmark 150th edition of golf's oldest major.

"I thought it was really good," the Northern Irishman, who was crowned Champion Golfer of the Year in 2014, said of his round. 

"I missed some opportunities early and Viktor holed a couple of long ones early on.

"But I stayed really patient, got my first birdie of the day on five, and I feel like my patience was rewarded around the turn with a couple of birdies and that hole-out on 10.

"Overall, a really good day. We sort of fed off each other, and navigated the last few holes well. It was tricky coming in there.

"When you're a couple off the lead going into the third day of The Open and you go out and shoot a six under, you're always going to be pleased with that."

McIlroy had magnificent backing from huge crowds on a glorious day on the Fife coast and he was grateful for it, but keen not to get carried away.

"The support that I've gotten this week has been absolutely incredible," said the four-time major winner. 

"I appreciate it and I feel it out there, but at the same time I'm trying my hardest just to stay in my own little world because that's the best way for me to get the best out of myself.

"I try to acknowledge as much as I can, but I'm just trying to stay in my process, stay in my own little bubble and I just have to do that for one more day.

"I just have to just stick to my game plan, stick to the process. The more people bring up the result, the more I'm just going to harp on about process and sticking to my game plan, because that's the only thing I can do, and I've done that well for the last three days.

"It's put me in this position. I just need to do it for one more day."

Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland will form Sunday's final pairing as the 150th Open Championship heads for a thrilling conclusion.

The duo played together on Saturday and both shot third-round 66s to claim a share of the lead on 16 under at St Andrews.

However, it is not quite a two-horse race at the famous Fife links, with Cameron Young and overnight leader Cameron Smith four strokes behind, while Scottie Scheffler and Kim Si-woo are within five.

The highlight of McIlroy's round was a hole-out eagle from the bunker on 10, but he and Hovland were both wayward on their approach shots to 17 as signs of nerves started to show on the notoriously tricky Road Hole.

McIlroy was close up against the stone wall to the right of the green and ended up with a bogey five, while Hovland – whose shot came to rest on the gravel path – recovered to salvage par and restore parity at the summit of the leaderboard.

A pair of birdies at the last kept it that way, setting things up for what promises to be a memorable final day at the home of golf.

Elsewhere in the field on an exciting moving day, Shane Lowry carded back-to-back eagles on the ninth and 10th before the 2019 winner faded on the back nine to sign for a 69.

Patrick Cantlay threatened to join the fun at the sharp end of things when he got to 11 under through 12, but he dropped three shots in the remaining six holes to end up eight off the pace.

SHOT OF THE DAY

McIlroy turned a threat into an opportunity after putting his tee shot into the bunker at the 10th, with rival Hovland having landed safely short of the pin.

A superb bunker shot pitched just shy of the cup and rolled in for an eagle two that piled the pressure on Hovland.

To his credit, the Norwegian got down in two for a birdie that ensured he stayed level with his playing partner.

PLAYER OF THE DAY

On moving day in Fife, it was crowd favourite McIlroy who really clicked into gear.

A pre-tournament favourite, the 33-year-old found his groove to chart a course for his fifth major and first since 2014.

On this form, he will take some stopping on Sunday, even with Hovland for company.

CHIPPING IN

Jordan Spieth: "What's difficult about it is a lot of the pin locations are in these tiny little tucked corners where, if you hit it more than five feet by, it goes 50 feet away."

Shane Lowry: "It wouldn't take Einstein to figure out what went wrong on the back nine. My putting was horrific."

Bryson DeChambeau: "I don't think you ever know how to play this golf course fully. Every day it's different. It showcases a unique golf course each time the wind pops up or doesn't pop up. It's just different."

A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME

- When McIlroy won The Open in 2014, he was 16 under after round three.

- The pairing of McIlroy and Hovland produced just one bogey between them on Saturday.

- Every winner of The Open at St Andrews has been within four shots of the lead heading into the final round.

Tommy Fleetwood is hoping his strong finish to Saturday's round has put him in the mix to challenge for The Open Championship.

Fleetwood made gains at the 14th, 15th and 18th holes to sign for a 66 and get to nine under at St Andrews.

It put him among the chasing pack on a day when conditions on the Fife coast were conducive to low scoring.

And Fleetwood, whose best finish at golf's oldest major was the runner-up spot in 2019, is optimistic he will be among the contenders on Sunday.

"It felt important," he said of his birdie at the last. "I birdied 15, parred 17 and birdied 18, but they all felt really important just being in the position we're in.

"We just can't afford to be dropping back too much and giving away too many chances at this point when you know the leaders are a long way ahead of you and you're trying to catch up.

"I'd have taken it [a 66] at the start of the day, that's for sure. I've just got to sit back and wait and see where we end up.

"It will be nice teeing off [on Sunday] feeling like we have a chance and see if we can get some momentum going on the front nine.

"It would be very cool and very special to be able to have a go again like down the stretch on a Sunday at The Open.

"I'll just wait and see. It's not in my hands. We'll ee what those guys do and if they get too far ahead, I'll be doing my best anyway, but it will be nice to have a chance, that's for sure."

Viktor Hovland sat at the summit through seven holes, the Norwegian getting to 14 under after starting the day on 10 under.

Playing partner Rory McIlroy was two shots back, level with overnight leader Cameron Smith and Cameron Young.

The American trio of Dustin Johnson, Scottie Scheffler and Patrick Cantlay were 10 under.

Kevin Kisner took advantage of warm and still conditions at St Andrews to surge up the Open Championship leaderboard, as low-scoring at St Andrews looked set to be order of the day.

American Kisner needed two birdies in his final three holes on Friday to reach level par, the cut mark, and he capitalised on an early tee time on day three to card nine birdies in a seven-under 65, moving at least briefly into the higher reaches of the leaderboard.

American Trey Mullinax and Italian Francesco Molinari also went low with six-under 66s, after both began on level par, while South African Dean Burmester had a 67 to reach five under through 54 holes.

Bryson DeChambeau was also surging into contention, reaching six under for his round through 13 holes, helped by an eagle at the ninth.

That put him alongside Kisner on seven under for the tournament, with Tommy Fleetwood joining them after picking up four shots through his first six holes.

Kisner, 38, proudly held the clubhouse lead and told Golf Channel the conditions had been ripe for going low.

"It was very benign earlier, hole locations a little more accessible and not playing as much wind as we've had the last two days, with it being pretty warm too," Kisner said.

"So the ball was going pretty far, and it felt like you were aiming right at the flag for the first time all week."

The afternoon forecast was for slightly stronger winds, with the possibility of showers, but the Old Course was giving the players great scoring opportunities and that looked set to continue, even if Kisner hoped a storm would brew up.

"I hope the winds blows like hell, and they can all shoot over par and I have a chance tomorrow, but I think there's a lot of birdies out there," Kisner said.

"The guys are really good golfers. Hopefully, they don't get too far away, and I can still have a chance."

Australian Cameron Smith held the lead through 36 holes on 13 under par, putting him two ahead of American Cameron Young, with Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Norway's Viktor Hovland one back on 10 under.

Cameron Smith holds the 36-hole lead at the 150th Open Championship after a day on which Tiger Woods likely waved a fond farewell to St Andrews.

A stellar 64 from Smith handed the Australian a two-shot lead on 13 under at the halfway point, with Cameron Young his nearest rival, while the likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Scottie Scheffler are firmly in the mix.

But 15-time major winner Woods, who has his name etched onto the Claret Jug three times, missed the cut following an untidy 75, conceding afterwards that he would probably not be returning when the home of golf next hosts the sport's oldest major.

Woods was met with rapturous applause as he made the walk down the 18th fairway, with McIlroy tipping his hat to the American as he headed down the first at the start of his round of 68, which left the 2014 winner three shots behind, level with Viktor Hovland.

After early rain on the Fife coast, the conditions were conducive to low scoring and Smith was one of a host of players to take advantage, with compatriot Adam Scott's 65 moving him to seven under and Tyrrell Hatton's 66 leaving him one better off.

Johnson got to nine under with a 67, one ahead of world number one Scheffler.

Other big names to join Woods in missing the cut were reigning champion Collin Morikawa, six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka.

SHOT OF THE DAY

Smith headed to the par-five 14th on the back of three consecutive pars and looking for something to ignite his back nine to match the fireworks of the front nine.

And my word did he find it. His approach shot found the green but was a long way from the hole, leaving him with surely a lag putt just to put it close enough for a birdie.

But that was never going to be enough for the on-form Smith, who rolled it all the way up to the hole and in the cup for a spectacular eagle. 

PLAYER OF THE DAY

Smith's 64 was Friday's lowest round on a day when his scorecard remained blemish-free.

The 28-year-old's putter stayed hot as he made six birdies and an eagle en route to a score that puts him in firm contention for a maiden major.

CHIPPING IN

Tiger Woods: "This is my favourite golf course. I fell in love with it back in 1995 and it hasn't changed. I just love how it can be played in so many different ways."

Mark Calcavecchia: "Forget about my golf. It wouldn't have mattered if I shot a pair of 75s or a pair of 85s, which I nearly did. It was about playing one more, my last one here at the home of golf, which is really cool to be able to end it here."

Cameron Smith: "I think there's going to be a few more gnarly pins, and I think being smart out there is definitely going to be the key to staying at the top of the leaderboard."

A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME

- Cameron Smith's combined score of 131 is a record after 36 holes in an Open at St Andrews.

- All four past champions at St Andrews missed the cut: Zach Johnson (2015), Louis Oosthuizen (2010), Tiger Woods (2000, 2005) and John Daly (1995).

- From his 22 appearances at The Open, this was only the fourth time Woods failed to make the cut.

Page 1 of 4
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.