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 not only has the backing of the majority of the huge crowd at St Andrews, but he is also Silver Medal winner Filippo Celli's pick to triumph at The Open.

McIlroy moved into a two-stroke lead through six holes on the final day at the 150th edition of golf's oldest major, with playing partner Viktor Hovland his nearest rival.

Already back in the clubhouse having carded a closing 71, Italian Celli is hoping when he receives his low amateur prize it will be McIlroy lifting the Claret Jug at the presentation.

"I'm feeling very happy and proud," said the 21-year-old, who finished on five under.

"Today my golf game was really good, like the last three days. And today I made a lot of stupid bogeys, I can say that, but that's okay because I'm very happy because my dream was to play here, and I won also the Silver Medal.

"I can't ask for a better thing to win the Silver Medal at the 150th Open at St Andrews.

"I hope that Rory McIlroy can win the Claret Jug because he's my favourite player. So going out for the presentation with Rory McIlroy, it will be a real dream. And I can't ask for better in this moment."

Celli revealed his dreamlike week had got off to a memorable start on Monday, when he played the back nine with his hero.

"It started on Monday. I was so lucky because I was playing the practise round with my coach and caddie, Alberto. We were on the 13th green, and the 13th green and the fifth green are the same green," he explained. 

"Rory McIlroy was playing the practise round with Dustin Johnson. He's putting on the fifth green. I was alone by myself out there with Alberto putting on 13.

"And I was so happy when Rory, like he turned to the face to me and Alberto, and he asked me and Alberto, 'Hey, guys, you mind if I join you for the back nine?'

"I looked at Alberto and said 'Is he serious or not?' Rory, of course you can!

"I was so lucky and happy because it's a dream come true because I grew up watching the video of Rory and the wins of Rory, all the stuff he won. So it's amazing, unbelievable."

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."

Viktor Hovland says it feels "pretty crazy" to be heading into the final round of The Open in a share of the lead with a golden opportunity to make history at St Andrews.

Hovland and Rory McIlroy will be in the last group on what promises to be a pulsating finale in Fife on Sunday after the Ryder Cup team-mates shot sublime third rounds of 66.

The 24-year-old could become the first Norwegian to win a major if he holds his nerve to lift the Claret Jug.

Hovland was living the dream as he and McIlroy put on a show in the penultimate pairing to go 16 under on Saturday, taking a four-shot advantage over Cameron Smith and Cameron Young.

The Oslo native said: "It's pretty crazy from where I grew up and so far away from playing the PGA Tour, European Tour, for that matter major championships.

"Just to be here is very special, but to have a chance to win one is - yeah, I have to pinch myself, but that doesn't mean I'm going to hold back tomorrow."

There is nowhere Hovland would rather win at first major than the home of golf.

He said: "I don't think there's any other place that would top it. Growing up in Norway and always watched The Open Championship for way longer than I ever did, for example, the Masters. To win a major that's closest to home, that would be really cool."

McIlroy is the crowd favourite at St Andrews, but Hovland fancies his chances if he rises to the occasion.

He added: "I don't mind [the support McIlroy gets]. It doesn't take the pressure off of anything, but I feel like I had some experience with that in the Ryder Cup last year.

"And at the end of the day, there's still some shouts there for me as well. So I appreciate those. I've just got to play my game and not worry about anything else."

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.

Rory McIlroy knows he has "got the game" to be the man who lifts the Claret Jug at the 150th Open Championship on Sunday.

The Northern Irishman carded a second-round 68 at Andrews to sit three shots behind leader Cameron Smith. 

McIlroy has not added to his major haul of four since 2014, when he was crowned Champion Golfer of the Year and won the US PGA Championship.

But he is confident he can change that on the Fife coast this weekend.

"I know I've got the game. That's all I need," he said. "I just need to go out and play my game and play my golf over the next two days and that's all I can do.

"Cam Smith goes out and shoots another two rounds like he did the first two days, I'm going to have a really hard time to win the tournament.

"I've just got to go out and do the best I can and worry about myself and hopefully that's good enough."

It was a day of low scoring at the home of golf, where Smith shot a blemish-free 64 to rise to the summit.

Australian compatriot Adam Scott also took advantage to sign for a 65, with McIlroy acknowledging it was important to be aggressive.

"It was one of those, you needed to go out and make birdies," he explained.

"It wasn't like you could be defensive at all. You had to go out and play well and make birdies because everyone was doing that.

"I just tried to play a little bit more on the front foot and be a little more aggressive."

But not everyone in the field managed to make the conditions count in their favour, with Tiger Woods labouring to a 75 as he missed the cut.

Afterwards, the 15-time major winner conceded he may never play an Open at St Andrews again, but Woods was heartened by the response he got from fans and his fellow professionals.

McIlroy was just starting his round and walking down the first when Woods was heading up the 18th to rapturous applause, with the two acknowledging each other.

"I've gotten pretty close to Tiger over these last few years," said McIlroy. "Especially after the accident, I think we've all sort of rallied around him down there in Jupiter and we all want to see him do well.

"He was our hero growing up, even though I'm maybe a touch older than some of the other guys, but we want to see him do well, we want to see him still out there competing.

"This week was obviously a tough week for him, but we're all behind him, we're all pulling for him."

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.

An emotional Tiger Woods conceded he is unlikely to play The Open at St Andrews again after missing the cut at the 150th edition of golf's oldest major on Friday.

The 15-time major winner carded a second-round 75 to sit nine over par, well short of the projected cut mark at the home of golf.

Woods was desperate to compete in this landmark tournament after his career was nearly ended by a car crash in February last year, and he admitted this was probably his final outing at an Open on the famous links.

It was fitting, then, that the 46-year-old – who has twice lifted the Claret Jug at the Fife course – was given a stunning ovation as he concluded his round, which left him with tears in his eyes.

 

"It's very emotional for me. I've been coming here since 1995... I think the next one comes around in what, 2030? I don't know if I will be physically able to play by then," he said.

"So to me it felt like this might have been my last British Open here at St Andrews. And the fans, the ovation and the warmth, it was an unbelievable feeling.

"I understand what Jack [Nicklaus] and Arnold [Palmer] had gone through in the past. I was kind of feeling that way there at the end – just the collective warmth and understanding. They understand what golf's all about and what it takes to be an Open champion.

"I've been lucky enough and fortunate enough to have won this twice here, and it felt very emotional.

"I just don't know what my health is going to be like. And I feel like I will be able to play future British Opens, but I don't know if I'll be able to play that long enough that when it comes back around here, will I still be playing?"

Woods admitted he was choked up by the response of the fans and his fellow professionals, including Rory McIlroy.

"As I walked further along the fairway, I saw Rory right there," he said. "He gave me the tip of the cap.

"It was a pretty cool, the nods I was getting from guys as they were going out and I was coming in, just the respect, that was pretty neat. And from a players' fraternity level, it's neat to see that and feel that.

"And then as I got closer to the green, more into the hole, the ovation got louder and you could feel the warmth and you could feel the people from both sides. It felt like the whole tournament was right there.

"I had a few tears. I'm not one who gets very teary-eyed very often about anything. 

"I put my heart and soul into this event over the years and I think the people have appreciated my play in the event. I've won it three times.

"Life moves on and I think that's what people understand, and they knew my circumstances this year, of just playing, period.

"I was very lucky to have had a great team around me to get me to where I was physically able to play three times this year and very thankful to all of them for getting me to this spot."

Dustin Johnson has no plans to revisit memories of his 2015 St Andrews collapse after taking the lead at the 150th Open Championship.

The former world number one shot a second-round 67 to move to nine under and top of the leaderboard.

Johnson conceded he was unlikely to remain at the summit come the end of the day, but he will be out to avoid a repeat of his weekend slump at the home of golf seven years ago.

Back then, the American held the 36-hole lead but carded consecutive 75s to fall well short, and he was not keen to dig that out of the memory bank following Friday's fine showing.

"To be honest, I don't even remember the third round from seven years ago," he said. "I've played a lot of golf since then, and that was a long time ago.

"Obviously any time playing in a major and playing golf courses, you learn stuff about yourself, but that was quite a while ago.

"I don't want to go back to it, obviously. It wasn't very good."

Johnson is now waiting to see how the weather will impact his strategy for the weekend as he eyes a third major and first Open title.

"Once I see what the wind direction is and we get the pins later, we kind of go through and map out a game plan," he said.

"It's all based on the wind how you attack the golf course and kind of where you hit it and where you want to hit it.

"I feel like I'm swinging well. Obviously, it's just avoiding the bunkers as much as possible. It's really hard not to hit it in one of the bunkers. I've been in three so far, and two of them I had to chip out sideways, and the other one I had a shot.

"If I can just keep out of the bunkers and just keep playing kind of smart golf where, when I have a good number and a club that I can get it close to the hole, I can be aggressive. But when not, just kind of hit it to 30, 40 feet and try to two-putt."

World number one Scottie Scheffler's 68 kept him within one of the lead, while Tyrrell Hatton's 66 also had him at eight under.

Adam Scott, playing alongside Johnson, signed for a 65 to seven under, with Rory McIlroy a further stroke back ahead of his 14:59 BST (local time) tee-off.

After early rain, conditions have been proving favourable for low scoring, but Tiger Woods was primed to miss the cut after moving to seven over through 15 holes on Friday.

Collin Morikawa knows it will be difficult to surpass the reception Rory McIlroy received at St Andrews after the world number two's fantastic start to the 150th Open Championship.

McIlroy will head into day two of the tournament just two shots behind leader Cameron Young after carding an excellent round of 66, in which he shot only one bogey.

The Northern Irishman won the Open in 2014, but missed out on the chance to defend his title at St Andrews a year later because of an ankle injury.

Yet he so far looks good to compete for winning his first major in eight years, and his fifth overall, with the 33-year-old receiving plenty of support from the crowd in Scotland.

When asked about the crowd reaction to McIlroy, Morikawa told reporters: "You hear your specks of Collin and specks of Xander, but it's hard to beat Rory."

McIlroy has been seen as something of a leader when it comes to speaking out against the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which has caused a divide across golf, with several elite players choosing to join the Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway competition.

Morikawa has also stood by the PGA Tour, though he is pleased to have McIlroy leading the charge.

He said: "I think you know all the guys that have spoke about the PGA Tour. We've all kind of said what we believe. Look, we all support each other.

"That's the biggest thing is like we're all here to play in the PGA Tour and do what we do."

Morikawa and McIlroy played together on the Sunday of the Masters, when the latter shot eight under to make a late charge only to come up short to world number one Scottie Scheffler.

McIlroy has enjoyed top-10 finishes in each of the previous three majors this season, and Morikawa believes he is competing against a player close to the top of their game. 

Morikawa explained: "I mean, Augusta was near flawless. I'm trying to remember if he made even a bogey, I don't think he did.

"Today was a really solid round of golf. Didn't make any errors, hit it in the right spots.

"Overall, it was awesome. That's what I need the next three days if I want to get myself in the tournament."

Morikawa himself could only manage to shoot par for the day, meaning he has much work to do if he plans on retaining his title.

Disappointed with his performance, Morikawa remarked: "I just gave too many shots away on the greens, and it sucks. Sometimes you have those days.

"Today was just hit some good drives and hit a bad second shot, hit some good second shots, hit a bad putt. Never got any momentum going."

"This place is very special, for a lot of reasons. There's so much thinking to this golf course that it's great.

"I think that fits into what I like to do, but at the same time, you've got to execute. And if you don't execute, it's only a game plan."

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