The 28-year-old Australian carded a closing 64 that included a back nine of six-under 30 to overtake crowd and final day bookies’ favourite Rory McIlroy and win by one shot over playing partner Cameron Young.
Smith carded five straight birdies from the 10th to the 14th and led by one shot coming to the final hole. After Young eagled the 18th to set the clubhouse target at 19-under, Smith cooly putted from off the green to within one metre and nervelessly sank the birdie putt. That meant Northern Ireland’s McIroy, playing in the last pairing, needed an eagle to force a play-off, but he eventually had to settle for a par and third place.
Smith joined Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Kel Nagle and Ian Baker-Finch as the only Australian winners of the British Open, and this was the first victory since Norman’s 1993 win at Royal St George’s.
Later, cradling the famous claret jug, Smith said, “I’m definitely going to find out how many beers fit in this thing, that’s for sure.” (“It’s pretty much exactly two,” he confirmed the next day.)