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Cameron Smith wins British Open, ties major scoring record

Australian Cameron Smith kisses the claret jug after winning the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews Golf Club in Scotland on Sunday. Smith won with a score of 20 under par. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

July 17 (UPI) -- Australian Cameron Smith overcame a four-stroke deficit entering the final round of the British Open on Sunday to win his first major at St. Andrews in Scotland.

Smith, 28, finished -20 with a score of 64 in the final round Sunday to come away victorious at the 150th Open Championship, edging out American Cameron Young (-19) and Ireland's Rory McIlroy (-18) -- the favorite entering the tournament.

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"All the hard work we've done the last couple years is really starting to pay off," Smith said as he hoisted the trophy. "And this one definitely makes it worth it."

The young Australian entered Sunday four strokes behind leaders McIlroy and Victor Hovland, who ultimately finished tied for fourth at -14, but managed to sink five birdies in a row on the back nine to secure the victory.

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His performance netted him the lowest score across the final half of a round for any major champion, besting Tiger Woods's score of -19 at the same event in 2000.

Smith's win also made him the first Australian to win the British Open since Greg Norman in 1993 and the first Australian man to win any major since Jason Day won the PGA Championship in 2015.

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McIlroy, 33, won the British Open in 2014 and appeared poised to end an eight-year stretch without a major tournament victory entering Sunday but ultimately saw his lead dwindle as his birdie puts repeatedly fell short.

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Despite the loss, McIlroy's finish Sunday made him the only player in 2022 to finish in the top 10 in each major championship.

"I knew that I could do it. I know this golf course. I play well here. The last two Opens I've played here, I've finished third both times," he said. "It's coming. I think just this whole major season, second at Augusta, third here, fifth at the U.S. Open, eighth at the PGA -- I'm knocking on the door. I just need to stay patient, keep knocking on the door and eventually one will open for me again."

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