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The Open - Golf: Five things we learned

18 July 2022 04:29:39 EST
Rory McIlroy's wait for another Major goes on

The 150th Open Championship certainly lived up to expectations and St Andrews provided the perfect setting for a stunning victory for Cameron Smith.

A final round 64 was enough for the Australian to win his first Major title and hold off the challenge of Cameron Young and Rory McIlroy.

There was plenty to take from the final Major of the year as the world's top players battle it out to top the money lists on either side of the Atlantic.

Smith has more Majors in his locker

The key to Smith's success at the home of golf was undoubtably his short game, with the 28-year-old clearly the best putter in the game at present.

Even before this week, the Aussie had shown his prowess with the flat stick on the PGA Tour, averaging 27.92 putts per round this season and ranked first in 'birdie or better conversion percentage'.

Smith will feel that his first Major should have come before his Open Championship success, having recorded five other top-10 finishes in the last eight years.

His brilliant touch around the greens makes him a perfect candidate to win a Green Jacket, especially as he already has T2 and T3 finishes to his name at Augusta.

Smith is available at 13.00 to win the Masters next year, while the Queenslander can be backed at 36.00 to win 2+ Majors in 2023.

McIlroy is the world's best golfer

He may find this missed opportunity harder than others to get over, but Rory McIlroy can take huge positives from his display at the 150th Open Championship and his return to form this year.

The Northern Irishman may be without a Major title since 2014, but he didn't lose the Claret Jug it was won by the outstanding Smith.

The European Ryder Cup star hit every green in regulation on Sunday and although his putter wasn't as hot as earlier in the week, he was beaten by an inspired rival.

McIlroy's record in the big four tournaments is phenomenal. Since turning pro in 2009, there hasn't been a year where he hasn't recorded a top-10 finish in a Major and in 2023, his Major record reads 2-8-T5-3.

He currently tops the stats for Scoring Average on the PGA Tour (68.635), while he is fourth in the US money-list standings as he looks to win the FedEx Cup for a record third time.

Young is a man on the up

It is a surprise to look down the world rankings and find Cameron Young sat outside the top-30, especially with the progress he has made this season.

This time last year, the man from New York was playing on the Korn Ferry Tour, but since moving to the big league he has already won over $4million in prize money.

Young has finished T3 at the PGA Championship and now second at the Open to emphasise his talent and make him one of the players to look out for going forward.

At just 25, Young looks to have plenty of titles ahead of him and it's his power and accuracy off the tee is impressive – he ranks eighth in the Driving Distance stats, averaging 316.5 yards.

Young is currently 34.00 to win the Masters in April but if his current form continues, that price looks like to be cut going into the new year.

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Fleetwood can look forward to home comforts

Sunday's tied-fourth finish for Tommy Fleetwood was his fifth top-five Major placing and his second in the Open Championship.

With his links golf background, the Open looks like the Englishman's best chance of claiming one of the big four titles and he is likely to already have one eye on next year's championship.

The 2023 Open will be held at Hoylake (Royal Liverpool), which is just 30 miles from his home in Southport and the home support will definitely be behind Fleetwood.

The 31-year-old, who is ninth in the Race to Dubai standings and 58th in the FedEx Cup rankings, can be backed at 29.00 to win the Claret Jug in 12-months' time.

Hovland now believes he can win

Everyone in the golfing ranks has known for the last couple of years how good Viktor Hovland is, but now it looks like he is also aware after his outstanding display at St Andrews.

The Norwegian went into the final round tied at the top with McIlroy, after back-to-back rounds of 66 on Friday and Saturday.

A final day 74 was clearly not want he wanted or expected, but this was the first time Hovland had genuinely challenged for a Major.

His T4 finish in Fife could be the kick start to his career at the very top level and he still has plenty to play for over the remainder of this season.

Hovland, who is available at 9.00 to win a Major in 2023, is currently fourth in the Race to Dubai and 20th in the FedEx Cup standings.

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