McIlroy makes solid start to lead by two at the turn
Smith fires five successive birdies to charge into lead
Aussie birdies the 18th to secure victory at St Andrews
Every morning during the 150th Open Championship, Rory McIlroy peered out of the window in his room at the hotel adjacent to the 18th fairway and looked over at the leaderboard behind the grandstand and imagined his name at the top.
“McIlroy was up there at the start of the day, but at the start of tomorrow, it won't be,” he said. “I'm only human. I'm not a robot. I’m disappointed. But there’s a worthy winner on that 18th green now, getting the Claret Jug.”
There are times when you can only tip your cap and say, “fair dinkum”. For McIlroy this was one of these. Cameron Smith won this, McIlroy did not lose it.
Granted, it was inconceivable when the Northern Irishman sized up a six-footer on the ninth to take a three-shot lead that he would not even finish in the top two. But on the 18th, McIlroy essentially failed to get up and down for a tie for second with American Cameron Young because he knew it was all or nothing with that chip to force a play-off.
After an eight-year wait for a fifth major, he was not about to depart the Home of Golf regretting he had failed to give it everything. There will be many who point to the stats and his 36 putts - the second most in a round in his 15-year major career - in his 70 and also reference that yanked birdie effort on the ninth as the reasons for this latest shortfall.
Yet the reality is that Smith, the 28-year-old from Brisbane, produced one of the greatest back nines ever in the 162-year history of the majors.
Five birdies in succession from the 10th - which saw Smith recover from a three-shot deficit to grasp a one-shot cushion he was not to forsake - and a nerveless two-putt from the Valley of Sin on the 18th for the decisive closing three added up to 30 coming in, the lowest ever recorded by a champion in the final back nine of an Open.
It would be all too easy and simplistic to label Smith as the quintessential Aussie, as the plus-foured Rottweiler with the relentless spirit and exhausting tenacity. But, in this, his annus mirabilis, Smith has proved himself as so much more than a dogged Dingo.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 17, 2022
This is his third title of the year - and, of course, the biggest regardless of the PGA Tour’s demands to class The Players as a major - and although he has only risen to world No 2 - relegating poor McIlroy to third - and must still bow to American Scottie Scheffler, there can be no doubt that he overwhelmingly possesses the tag as the best putter in the male game.
In his 73 on Saturday, Smith’s wand deserted him but when he needed the magic most 24 hours on it reappeared in his unerring grip on Sunday afternoon.
Up until that point it had all seemed so blessedly straightforward for McIlroy with the atmosphere bubbling but hardly boiling and then Smith took his cue.
McIlroy claimed he was only concentrating on his own group, he and Viktor Hovland having ventured out with a four-shot lead on 16-under. Hovland, 24, wilted, unable to capitalise on the most inviting conditions of the week.
A bogey on the fourth, and elsewhere birdie-less on that front nine, cast him out of the developing race. McIlroy was not putting a foot wrong, but his putts were sliding past consistently on the left and so his number remained catchable. He did not know it, did not feel it, but he was vulnerable to a charge.
There were two 20-footers on Smith’s quality quintet - on the 11th and 13th, as well as a two-putt from 80ft from the back of the 14th. That thrust him ahead as McIlroy could not birdie the 10th and then the 14th.
There was still the Road Hole to negotiate and when Smith hit his one poor shot on that inward half - his approach on the 17th flayed to the right, leaving him snookered by the infamous bunker - he simply rolled a putt from off the green to 12ft and coolly converted for a precious par.
While McIlroy struck a sweet second to 15 feet on the 17th, Smith was in front of the last green in that notorious swale. If only McIlroy could have slotted it home to move level with Smith then the roars might have exerted some pressure. Instead the ball took that fateful course below the hole and Smith, Mr Impervious, cosied his lag up to three feet.
His playing partner, Young, holed from 18- feet for an eagle, a 65 and 19-under - his second top three in the majors this year - and it did not appear remotely possible that Smith would do anything other than locate the middle of the cup. In truth, it was the side of a dustbin lid to him all day.
Hovland’s 74 hauled him back into a tie with England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who enjoyed his best finish in the majors since his second in this event three years ago, while Dustin Johnson was one further back on 13-under after a 69.
Johnson was the top LIV player, with Bryson DeChambeau the other rebel on the Saudi circuit in the top 10 on 12-under after a 66. Greg Norman, the LIV chief executive, will be delighted and not only because his controversial series gained so much publicity at such a milestone event, regardless if it was largely negative.
Norman was the last Australian winner of the Open, way back in 1993, and will be thrilled by his countryman’s class and pluck and would dearly love to sign him. He was even asked in the champion’s press conference about the growing rumours that he would join LIV - for the record, there was no flat denial - and that only highlights the effect the breakaway league has had on the sport.
A McIlroy win would have allowed golf - traditional golf, that is - to forget about LIV. For a day at least. Yet still, Smith’s success will live long his moment, whatever he does next. The Golden Boy was cruising, but the pro from the same state as Gold Coast would not obey the script.
It was everything the 150th anniversary of this ever frenetic golf tournament deserved. Its penchant for rich drama heads toward the 200 mark.
The Open 2022 final round - as it happened
'One for the mullets!'
John Daly - the 1995 Open winner at St Andrews - had tweeted his congratulations!
Way to go Cam….great playing—incredible back 9! Oh, chalk another for the mullets!
Today's final round in two pics
Something to remember re Rory
This is from Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf)
As far back as the stats go, Rory McIlroy is the only player to hold the 54-hole lead at a major, hit every green in regulation in the final round and not win.
It's a young man's game...
This is the first time ever all four majors have been won by four golfers under the age of 30.
US Masters - Scottie Scheffler (26)
US PGA - Justin Thomas (29)
US Open - Matt Fitzpatrick (27)
The Open - Cam Smith (28)
Rory McIlroy speaks to Sky Sports...
On his final round...
"I expected someone to come from the pack. I was playing a controlled round of golf and when I needed to make birdies on the back nine I just couldn't. I was two short of where I though I needed to be. Cam Smith got his bad round out the way yesterday and followed up with a great round today."
On what he needs to do to get that elusive fifth major...
"I just have to keep plugging away...Jeez, compared to the past years [my form in the majors] (he's been in the top 10 in all four) has been really positive... my game is heading in the right direction. I just have to keep playing good golf until the next major but i cannot get too despondent, I've played good golf. "
'I am definitely going to find out how many beers sit in this thing that's for sure.' - Cam Smith talks to Sky...
When asked if he could put into words how he feels...
"Absolutely not! It's just unreal, This place is just so cool - to have the 150th Open here and to walk away with the win is just awesome."
On his brilliant up and down at the 17th....
"I was just trying to get it on the green and have a look and luckily got away with a four there."
On adding his name to the list of Open winners...
"I am lost for words - it's unreal to look at these names to win this trophy and then to add mine - I am lost for words."
On how he plans to celebrate
"I am definitely going to find out how many beers sit in this thing (the Claret Jug) that's for sure."
Cam Smith speaks...
He's speechless and nearly in tears until he manages to say
"Jeez, what a week...I'd like to thank my team, the hard work over the past few years has paid off and this certainly makes it worth it...I thought the course was exactly how an Open should be played, firm and fast with tough pins. Thank you."
The presentation ceremony is now taking place
The Silver medal for leading amateur is handed to Filippo Celli and then there's a huge roar as Cam Smith is introduced as the Champion Golfer of the Year.
He now has his mitts on the Claret Jug at the home of golf...the 'holy grail' is his.
Lowest final rounds from Open champions
2016 Henrik Stenson, 63
1993 Greg Norman, 64
2022 Cameron Smith, 64
It's easy to get wrapped up in another near miss for Rory
BUT Let’s remember Cam Smith shot an eight-under 64 to win. And let us also not forget that his playing partner Cameron Young shot a brilliant seven-under to finish in sole second just a shot back.
Hindsight is a great thing - but Rory's two-under par wasn't enough in these conditions to get his hands on the Claret Jug at the home of golf. That's probably just nitpicking, he didn't do a whole lot wrong, but he didn't do enough right.
Rory ends on 18-under
In third place after a par at the last. He must feel so deflated even as the crowd chant his name. The wait for that elusive fifth major goes on...
The fact he shot a two-under 70 in the final round (with no bogeys), having had a four-shot lead, and still didn't win is testament to Cam Smith's brilliance rather than any real fault on Rory 's part.
Viktor Hovland ends on 14-over
After a final-round two-over. It wasn't his day and his round never got going.
Cam Smith is the Champion Golfer of the Year!
As Rory's chip goes over the Valley of Sin and past the pin. He didn't play badly but the putts wouldn't drop and, if you were being harsh, he didn't give himself enough gilt-edged chances, as he did over the first three days.
Rory's drive cannot find the green
And he'll have to chip in from over the Valley of Sin to get to 20-under and force the play-off.
Ahead on the 18th...
...Cam Smith putts from below the green to within two-feet. That putt will take him to 20-under and Rory will now more than likely need an eagle to force a play-off...
The Aussie is under a bit of pressure as Cameron Young eagles the last to move to 19-under - for a moment at least tied for the lead.
Smith, though is the best putter in the world and he doesn't miss from two feet and the target is 20-under. He's put on a display of sustained brilliance over the back nine...
RORY NEEDS TO EAGLE THE LAST TO FORCE A PLAY OFF.
This putt from Rory needs to go in...
...and it just misses on the left...ouch
Great approach from Rory at the 17th
He had to take it on from 161 yards - he fires it over the right edge of the infamous Road Hole bunker and will have a 15-footer for birdie. The putts haven't dropped for him so far but can he one-putt from there to move to 19-under? Fingers crossed...
The leader's drive on 18 is a yard short of the famous green
He won't have the easiest chip but the way he's playing you suspect he'll make birdie to end on 20-under. Cameron Young, meanwhile, gives himself a fine chance of an eagle as he drives the green...this still isn't over.
Great up and down from Cam Smith at the Road Hole!
Does he now have one hand on the Claret Jug? That was a great two putt from shy of the Road Hole bunker - wow! Gutsy and nerveless - in the circumstances that's as good an up and down as you are likely to see. He stays at 19-under.
Cameron Young comes up shy with his birdie putt - bit of a shock - and stays at 17-under. You'd think his race is now run...
Great drive from Rory at the Road Hole
It's the perfect line and safely on the fairway.
The putts just haven't dropped for Rory
Can he produce some magic on 17 and 18?
Cam Smith goes with the putter
Putts around the Road Hole bunker and he has at least a 12-footer for his par...
On the 16th Rory makes his par and he stays one back on 18-under.
The Road Hole always serves up drama
And Cam Smith's approach is short of the green and just short of the Road Hole bunker. He now has a devilishly tricky up and down (over or around the bunker) to save par.
Cameron Young meanwhile avoid the infamous hazard and is on the green in two - he'll have a 20-footer for birdie...he's still very much in this...
Rory's approach to 16 flies over the pin
And leaves him with a 35-footer for a much-needed birdie. He hasn't holed a thing all day AND he still hasn't - again he judges the pace well but it won't drop and he has a two-footer for par.
Cam Smith's drive at the Road Hole
Takes a brave line, hugging the Old Course Hotel, but you know who fortune favours and he is miles down the fairway on the short stuff. Cameron Young, on 17-under, also finds the fairway.
Now the tough approach taking on the Road Hole waits for whoever wants to go flag-hunting...
Rory's drive just about avoids the fairway bunkers on the 16th
He went with driver and so won't have a full shot in - that's a bit of a surprise.
Meanwhile, ahead on the green Cam Smith two-putts from 30 feet (after a similar strategy to Rory - out with the driver). He stays out in front on 19-under with the infamous Road Hole lying in wait for him...
Rory stays at 18-under
After a two-putt at the 15th - he needs to find something over these closing three holes. The 16th and 17th are fraught with danger...you think he may need to go two-under to have a chance...
Rory finds the left rough at 15
He cannot afford to drop shots at this stage - he has 143 yards to the pin but the ball will fly out of the long stuff. He plays it well to find the green and leave himself 30 feet for an unlikely three.
Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth's race is run - he had a few chance on the front nine but he has to be content with a closing 68 to end on 12-under.
Rory's sartorial statement
By Tom Morgan at the Old Course
Having earlier this week described the Old Course as golf's "Holy Grail", McIlroy is paying another subtle tribute to the Home of Golf, with “back” written on the underside of his left Nike shoe and “home” on the right. The specially made shoes also have his initials and a Scottish thistle embroidered on them.
The rest of his outfit has received a lukewarm reception among some spectators, however.
Those in the queue for the grandstand at the 18th said they preferred the emerald green jersey he wore yesterday than the pale yellow with pinstripes he has on today.
"He looked majestic in that green yesterday," Margaret James, 68, from Edinburgh, said earlier as she queued for the grandstand at the 18th. "Hopefully the yellow is his lucky colour, but I'm not so sure."
The tricky 16th and 17th now await the leading trio
These next two holes could very well decide who lifts the Claret Jug...one-under for the closing three holes for Cam Smith could be enough...
BREAKING NEWS: Cam Smith doesn't birdie a hole
The regulation par comes at the par-four 15th and he stays at 19-under.
Cameron Young, meanwhile, has a great chance of birdie on the same hole but his attempt doesn't break enough and he stays at 17-under.
No birdie for Rory at the 'easy' 14th
His birdie attempt is shy and he taps in for five. He needs some of these to drop...He stays at 18-under, one back of Cam Smith.
Rory just shy of the 14th green in two
He has a tricky third that has to negotiate several mounds on its way to the green. He uses the putter and his effort is OK - no more, no less - he'll have a 10-footer to join Cam Smith at 19-under.
Cam Smith now leads!
He's playing some brilliant stuff at the moment - he's just sunk his fifth birdie on the bounce to move to 19-under.
He fired his second into the 14th a full 314 yards over the back of the green, and was able to two-putt (quite magnificently) for the four. To say all the momentum is with him at the moment is a bit of an understatement, it's not that Rory's playing badly, it's just that the Australian is playing out of his skin - he's seven-under for the round at the moment.
Cameron Young also birdies and he's now at 17-under.
From Tom Morgan out on the Old Course...
It's getting tight at the top this afternoon on the Old Course, but none of the leading pack will be out of pocket come dinner time. The Claret Jug this year comes with a cool $2.5m in prize money. Second takes home $1.45m, while third lands $933,000.
Rory's birdie attempt from downtown
Stops one revolution from dropping...it's another good lag putt and he'll stay on 18-under. He could have done with that going in, if only to respond to Cam Smith's charge...
Hovland drops a shot having found one of the Coffin bunkers and had to chip out sideways. He's now back to 15-under and, you think, he will need a disaster from one of Young, Smith and McIlroy to have a chance now...
DJ is blemish free
And he's at 14-under - four-under for the round. He's too far back to win, you'd think, but it's been a fine round from the former world No 1.
Rory is way left on the green at the 13th
That won't be an easy two-putt. A few of his approaches have gone left - not a good sign.
Cam Smith is on fire
Yep, he's rolled in his fourth birdie in a row - he's now level with Rory at 18-under. That bird came at the par-four 13th. He found the fairway with his drive and his approach from 184-yards left him with an 18-foot putt which he drained - his iron play and putting are up there with the best in the world and he's show exactly why right now.
Cameron Young also birdies the 13th and he's two-shots back on 16-under.
Rory's birdie putt at 12
Starts left and stays there - it was a decent chance from about 12-feet or so but he'll have to be content with a four to stay at 18-under. Will he end up ruing these missed chances.
Meanwhile, Hovland birdies the 12th after a delightful chip to move to 16-under, his first birdie of the day.
Great drive from Cam Smith on 13
It's the drive that got him in trouble yesterday (when he ended up with a double bogey) but he's avoided the coffin bunkers and looks in good shape on the 465-yard par four.
Cam Smith is now one back
He drove the green at the par-four 12th and was able to two putt from 24 yards. He's now at 17-under - five-under for the day - and the putter is suddenly working...ominous...
Rory negotiates the tricky 11th
With a par-three. He two-putted from down town - once again showing off his fine pace putting...he stays at 18-under.
Cam Smith is the one to look out for
Think it's between him and Rory the way things have gone so far...
Rory responds immediately!
He restores the two-shot lead with birdie at the drivebale 10th - he's on in one and his eagle putt just misses to leave him with a tap-in three. He's now at 18-under...
ps. the record score to win an Open at St Andrews is Tiger's 19-under in 2000...
Hovland drains a knee-knocker to par and stay at 15-under, he's still in it, just...
Here comes Cam Smith!!
The Players champion moves to 16-under, just one back of Rory, thanks to a birdie at the 11th. His tee shot left him with a 16-footer for the two and he drained it as you'd expect the world's best putter to do.
The crowd favourite
Nine holes to play
And it's very much a case of squeaky-bum time...
Cam Smith birdies the 10th
His drive at the 10th leaves him with just a 27-yard pitch which he plays well to leave him with a two-foot putt. He's at 15-under, two back of Rory, as is his playing partner and fellow Cameron, Young, who also cards a three.
Missed chance for Rory
It looked for all the world as though the birdie putt would drop but it stays just right of the cup. It's a one-under front nine of 35 for the world No 2 who's on 17-under.
It's a one-over front nine for Hovland - he walked off the ninth also with a par and he's on 15-under.
Rory's drive on the ninth is just shy of the green
On the right...it was a bit of a block but it doesn't matter. He has 57 yards to the pin, which is on the left, and his chip leaves him with a 10-footer for birdie. Hovland is also safely on in two.
Cameron Young drops back to 14-under
He hooks his drive at the ninth into the gorse bush, is forced to take a drop and cannot get up and down from there as he cards a five. He's now three-shots back. Cam Smith has a great chance to get to 15-under with a 10-footer but the putts haven't been dropping for him over the weekend and he has to be content with a par to stay at 14-under.
Birdie for DJ at the 11th
He's had his chances but he's taken the latest one to move to 13-under, three-under for the day.
Rory's putting well
Bar the missed birdie chance at the third he's been rolling the putts with ease and confidence. He two putts without any fuss on the par-three eighth from distance. He stays at 17-under. Hovland also pars to remain at 15-under.
Disaster for Adam Scott
All his momentum looks as though it's going to be checked by a wild drive at the driveable 12th...he slices it right into a big gorse bush...
Great par save from Cameron Young
It comes at the eighth - it was a 12-foot putt that he drained to stay at 15-under. Cam Smith has a shorter par save but, likewise, nails it - he stays three back at 14-under.
Elsewhere, Si Woo Kim's race is run as he's served up back-to-back bogeys on eight and nine- he's at 10-under now
Meanwhile, Adam Scott is at 13-under - four-under for the round and through 11...
Pars for Rory and Hovland at the seventh
They stay at 17-under and 15-under respectively.
Cameron Young is looking so calm out there
He's not won on the PGA Tour but an Open Sunday at the home of golf isn't fazing him - after that dropped shot at the first he's rolled in four birdies to move to 15-under, now just two back of Rory. Cam Smith pars the seventh and stays at 14-under.
Rory's steady start continues
His birdie putt at the sixth just misses on the low side but he stays at 17-under, still with the two-shot lead as Hovland also walks off with a four.
Putter from the fairway from Rory
Clever play at the sixth - the pin is just by the false front and you couldn't get a chip close to that. So he pulls out the putter from 54 yards and gets it to within 10 or so feet. Bravo!
Tough week for LIV rebel Paul Casey with his father in ICU
By Tom Morgan
Paul Casey was overwhelmed by emotion as he revealed his father Terry has been in intensive care in hospital while the player has been in action at the 150th Open.
The Englishman was answering questions on his upcoming debut in the Saudi-backed LIV series when he became tearful and had to cut short the interview. Casey Snr underwent heart bypass surgery on Wednesday. “I’ve had a lot going on," his son said. "My dad’s actually in ICU right now,” the 44-year-old added before leaving the interview room.
His father's health scare has been the main focus, Casey said, as he explained he “I’m really out of the loop" on whether his LIV involvement will sacrifice world ranking points. However, speaking about the possibility of not playing in future Opens if LIV Golf does not succeed with its application to be allowed to award world ranking points, Casey said: “I was fully aware of the possibility of not playing majors. “I think it’s an interesting question for the younger guys. I don’t know what guys are going to do. I think there’s the option of playing some Asian Tour events.
“There’s a lot of discussion, a lot of WhatsApp chat group feeds going around. I’m not part of most of them. I think the discussion was if guys turn up en masse, then it lifts the World Ranking points. So if they’re going to go play an Asian Tour, they all go together.”
Casey, who went round in 70 to end the day four-under, had previously said he would be a “hypocrite” to play in the Saudi International. Casey, who is a former Unicef ambassador, opted out of the inaugural Saudi International on the European Tour in 2019, citing concerns over the country’s human rights record.
In an interview with the Independent in March that year, he said: “It just didn’t sit well with me. I’ve not talked too much about it and I’m not sure I want to, but certainly signing a deal and being paid to be down there, I would be a hypocrite if I did that.”
However, he subsequently performed a U-turn and has played the Saudi International – now part of the Asian Tour – in each of the last two years.
Rory leads by two!
He lagged his eagle putt to leave him with a tap-in birdie - he's now at 17-under and looking more confident with every hole. He has a two-shot lead thanks to Hovland's par - he was unable to one-putt on the par five and he's at 15-under.
Oh Tommy, Tommy!
They are starting to queue up behind the leaders and one of the eager beavers is Tommy Fleetwood. He's birdied the seventh having stiffed his approach from just over 100 yard to four feet and one-putting from there. He's now four back on 12-under.
Great approach from Rory at the fifth
He was in the light rough but that doesn't bother him as from 253 yards he fires one to the back of the green where the pin is to be found and he'll have a good look at eagle.
Hovland is forced to lay up and with his third plays a good chip over the bunker guarding the green to within 15-feet of the pin.
Cam Smith to 14-under
The second-round leader birdies the fifth - as a lot of guys are doing today - and is now within two of Rory. Cameron Young repeats the trick and he, too, is not at 14-under.
Spieth's momentum checked
With a bogey at the eighth - a three-putt at the par-three his undoing. He's back to 11-under.
Is three-under for his round, he's just birdied the seventh to move to 12-under, four shots back - can he keep going? He went close to lifting the Claret Jug in 2012 at Royal Lytham and St Annes...
Rory leads by one
He two putts at the fourth from 29 feet - he'll be fine with that - it's the toughest hole on the front nine and his nerveless two-putt bodes well. Hovland's first putt was from downtown, he leaves himself with a 10-footer for par and he drops a shot - he's back to 15-under, and Rory leads by one.
Bogey for Scheffler at the fifth
It's the second easiest hole on the course - a par feels like bogey so that will feel awful. He was out of position off the tee and in trouble from then on. He's back to 10-under. Is his race now run?
Rory fires in approach at the fourth pin high
He'll have a 29-footer for birdie. Hovland, meanwhile, finds the back of the green and he's in three-putt territory.
Further up the course Jordan Spieth has rolled in another birdie, his fourth of the round, at the seventh to get to 12-under, four shots back.
Back-to-back birdies for Cameron Young
Having dropped a shot at the first that's a great comeback from the 24-year-old American - the latest birde comes at the fourth. He's now at 13-under joining his playing partner Cam Smith on the same number.
DJ to 12-under
The Saudi-golf rebel has birdied the par-five fifth - he was through the back of the green with his second before getting up and down in two. He's four shots back.
Playing partner Tommy Fleetwood also birdies and he's at 11-under, two-under for his round.
Both miss great birdie chances
Hovland's misses on the high side while Rory's putt is a poor one, it never looked in from the moment it left the putter, not a good sign.
Both remain at 16-under.
Great approaches from Rory and Viktor at the third
Hovland has 86 yards in and goes over the pin to leave a 10-footer while McIlroy has just 74 yards in and runs it up to the hole to leave a six-footer...
Great chances for both...
Scheffler's had chances but another one goes begging at the fifth
He's still on 11-under.
The Silver Medal for leading amateur has been won by...
...Italian Filippo Celli - he's just carded a final-round 71 to end on six-under.
There were six amateurs in the field and four of them made the cut. A great achievement by all of them.
Cameron Young balances the books
With a birdie at the third - he's back to 12-under. Cam Smith had another good look at birdie on the same hole but his breaking eight-footer just misses on the low side. He stays at 13-under, three shots back.
Robert MacIntyre ended on seven-under
He's just spoken to Sky Sports and says 20-under will win it.
Another good pace putt from Rory
But it's just a four at the second - his approach not spinning back as much as he'd have hoped - but it's tap-par for the world No 2. It's the same script for Hovland - still nothing between them (playing almost identical golf) and they stay at 16-under, three clear of Cam Smith.
Spieth goes close with eagle attempt at the fifth
The par-five is a great scoring opportunity and he'll have a tap in to go to 11-under.
Cantlay goes one better as he cards a three on the same hole - he's now at 10-under.
Great drive from Rory at the second
It avoids Cheape's bunker and is long - he'll have a wedge into the green. Hovland matches his playing partner - good opening signs from both which suggests they will be very hard to catch.
As I type Cam Smith gets to 13-under with a get three at the second. His approach left him with a six-footer the looked in from the moment it left the flat stick.
Opening pars for Rory and Viktor
Rory's approach leaves him with a 12-footer that flirts with the hole - the ball finished just behind the cup so he's got the pace of the greens early on, a good sign.
Hovland's birdie attempt is closer but he putts through the break and, like his playing partner, has to be content with a four.
Both stay at 16-under.
No birdies from the chasing pack just yet
By that I mean from the Scheffler and Si Woo Kim pairing on.
As I type Cameron Young misses a three-footer at the first and falls to 11-under, five back. And DJ misses a good birdie chance at the third - they need those to drop...he stays at 11-under.
Rory and Hovland have got their final rounds underway
And there's no doubting who the crowd are backing as McIlroy is greeted with huge cheers.
Both are safely on the widest fairway in golf and they'll have 18 holes and four and a half hours to write themselves in the history books.
This promises to be yet another Duel in the Sun, of Duel in the Slightly Cloudy Conditions (I cannot actually see the sun...).
Hatton is four-under through six
After his one-over round yesterday he's on fire at the moment - he's drained a long putt at the sixth to move to 11-under.
More from Kate Rowan by the first tee
"Huge cheers for McIlroy as he walked over the players’ bridge down to the practice putting green. Lots of love for the Northern Irishman. Every practice put or being analysed by the crowd, which normally isn’t the case at the practice green. Hovland has joined him a few minutes later. McIllroy is looking comfortable holing one on a steep upward slope. A good sign for things to come? "
Spieth is two-under through three
He stiffed his approach at the third to within two feet and tapped in for a back-to-back birdie. He's now at 10-under.
DJ has also got on the birdie train - he's carded a three at the second - thanks to holing his 15-foot putt - and is now at 11-under.
From Kate Rowan by the first tee
"With less than 15 minutes until leaders Rory McIllroy and Viktor Hovland tee off there was a genuine sense of nervous anticipation at the first tee. At the practice putting green which is right next to it, there were crowds three deep. It had been relatively easy to watch from there this week. There were lots of Irish rugby tops and hats amongst the golf gear, doubtless still celebrating Ireland’s historic Test series victory over New Zealand and no doubt in tribute to massive Ulster and Ireland rugby fan McIlroy."
The two Cameron's are out on the first
Cam Smith had a day to forget yesterday BUT he has the game to post another 64 (as he did on Friday) and that would almost certainly make him part of the conversation later today. He And Cameron Young both start on 12-under, four shots back.
The average score so far today is...
A shade under 69. So the low scores are there with the damper greens.
The walk to the second
Across the Swilcan Burn...
It's Scottie Scheffler and Si Woo Kim's turn
To get their final rounds underway.
They're at 11-under and it's from this pair onwards that you think a challenge to Rory and Hovland could come. They're five back but a low score could well pose a tricky question for the leading duo.
Opening birdie for Fleetwood!
The Englishman drains his 15-footer to move to 10-under. Playing partner DJ's third stops an inch short of dropping - he stays at 10-under.
Tommy Fleetwood and DJ are underway
The pair are on nine and 10-under respectively. DJ had a quick start yesterday but then had a bit of a stumble. It's unlikely that either will be able to catch the leading pair, but DJ can definitely shoot 65...Fleetwood finds the fairway and his approach goes over the pin leaving him 15-feet. DJ's second leaves him a 12-footer.
Spieth birdies the second
His approach left him nine-foot for the three and the three-time major winner made no mistake from there - he's now at nine-under.
Solid starts from Fitzpatrick and Scott
They both walk off the first green with fours and stay at nine-under.
Sadom Kaewkanjana is the form golfer at the moment
The Thai star is seven-under for his round through 16 and up to T-fifth on 11-under. Evidence, if any were needed, that there are low scores out there.
Adam Scott and Matt Fitzpatrick are both on nine-under
On the first tee...they get their final rounds started with fairway finders.
Two holes ahead Tyrrell Hatton is two-under for his round, thanks to birdies at the second and third and he's now at nine-under.
Cantlay and Spieth
Have both found the first fairway - no shock there - I suspect the American pair are too far back to really challenge for the Claret Jug. If you assume one or both of Hovland and McIlroy will shot 68/69 those on eight-under, such as these two will need to shoot 11/12-under.
The pin on the first is only six yards on - bringing the Swilcan Burn into play - but Spieth and Cantlay both give themselves decent birdie chances. Spieth misses his 10-footer and walks off with a four, and his compatriot does the same and they both stay at eight-under.
The contenders for the Claret Jug...
...are about to get their final rounds underway.
Here are the tee times for the final hour.
2:00 Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth
2:10 Adam Scott , Matt Fitzpatrick
2:20 Tommy Fleetwood, Dustin Johnson
2:30 Scottie Scheffler, Si Woo Kim
2:40 Cameron Smith , Cameron Young
2:50 Rory McIlroy , Viktor Hovland
Some great pairing there - I make it 12 majors between that lot - it promises to be a special afternoon of golf.
The 2019 Champion Golfer of the Year Shane Lowry
Yesterday bagged back-to-back eagles (on nine and 10) - the first such occurrence at The Open for 21 years. He was two-over for the remaining eight holes, however, and he's started his final round on seven-under. His opening tee shot safely finds the widest fairway in golf.
Tyrrell Hatton's final round is underway
A third round 73 put paid to any realistic chance he had of victory - he's nine shots back on seven-under - something he admitted to after walking off the 18th green last night.
“I’ve played myself out of the tournament,” he admitted afterwards. “All I can hope for now is a decent round tomorrow [Sunday] to finish the week on a high.”
He was, however, on his best behaviour - he's a golfer who is known for the odd tantrum on the fairways.
By Jim White
The intriguing news, however, was that, unlike the several previous occasions when he has faltered mid-round, the television commentators were not obliged to apologise for any bad language picked up by the course microphones. Nor were any of his clubs brutally disciplined, like the wedge he demolished last year at the Open at St George’s after it let him down attempting to reach the green from a bunker. And the St Andrews grass remained safe from any admonishment, which is more than can be said for the turf at the Southern Hills course in Tulsa when he took out his anger by bashing a hole in the green with his club during the opening round of this year’s PGA championship.
True, he was annoyed enough to call in the course referee to issue a complaint about the position of the pin on that tenth hole he messed up. But even that turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax.
“Trouble was, DJ [Dustin Johnson] came through and birdied the same hole and then Rory eagled his bunker shot on it,” he said. “So that made me feel even better.”
Rory is at the Old Course
To prepare for his 2.50 tee time - it looks as though he's going to be wearing a yellow t-shirt which is a colour he hasn't word for any of his final round major wins so far...which probably means absolutely nothing...
The scoring is low
There are a fair few birdies out there at the moment - the low round is Burns' 64, if the breeze doesn't pick up this afternoon we could see a lower score carded. Those on 10-under, 11-under and 12-under (Camerons Young and Smith, Scottie Scheffler, Si Woo Kim and Dustin Johnson) could well need to post 65 or better to have a chance of victory.
The vagaries of golf and the Old Course
Sam Burns fired in the round of the day so far - and joint lowest of the week - an eight-under 64. His back nine was a glorious five-under 31, a full 13 shots better than his back nine yesterday, an horrific eight-over 44...!
Will the Road Hole have a say in who lifts the Claret Jug?
The pin today is seven yards on and 34 yards on the left - so just over the Road Hole bunker. Yesterday both Hovland and McIlroy went over the green with their approach shots (Viktor ended with a four and Rory with a five) and the infamous hole, the most famous in golf, could well influence who wins today.
Oliver Brown on the final round
It rained overnight and conditions are cool at the moment. Here's our Chief Sports Writer on who that will benefit...
"Rory McIlroy without a shadow of a doubt. These conditions are tailor-made made for him - the greens are softened up, they are going to play like dartboards and that will suit his towering iron play and the way he's going to approach this final round, which is the first time he's been leading a major going into the final for eight years. "
You suspect it's two-man race
Firstly because the way they are playing the four-shot gap BUT also because of this stat...
33 of the past 35 major winners were within three shots entering the final round.
There are low scores out there
Sam Burns has just carded the joint-lowest score this week - an eight-under 64. The American's round has seen him leap up the leaderboard to T-21 on six-under.
The focus may be on Rory
He's the home hope, without a major in eight years and an all-round good guy so it's understandable why the focus is on him. BUT Viktor Hovland could prove to be more than a match for the world No 2 - he, like McIlroy, plays the game with a smile on his face, will not be overawed by playing alongside the crowd favourite and has the game to win multiple majors.
Here's the relaxed Norwegian on what awaits him today.
"It's about going out there and do the same thing today. I feel I was in way more control of my ball yesterday and hopefully I can hit it a little bit better tomorrow.
"It's pretty outrageous, to be fair. I've never been here before so at the start of the week I was just trying to soak everything in. I had some lousy performances coming in so I'm glad I've turned it around and hopefully I'll make the most of it tomorrow."
The Open set for another Duel in the Sun
"It's unbelievably cool to have a chance to win The Open at St Andrews, it's what dreams are made of, and I'm going to try to make a dream come true tomorrow."
Those are the words of Rory McIlroy who heads into today's final round with a share of the lead, alongside Viktor Hovland, on 16-under, four shots clear of the field. Eight years without a major, and always with a sense of what might have been when he was injured in 2015, the world No 2 has a great chance to finally both break his major duck and win the Claret Jug at the home of golf. Indeed, today is what dreams are made of.
Such is the way McIlroy and Hovland played the Old Course on Saturday - both shooting six-under 66s - it would be a surprise if the winner didn't come from the final pairing. While their rivals, such as Cam Smith, who shot a one-over 73 to fall back to 12-under, found the going tricky the Northern Irishman and Norwegian fed off each other and pulled away from the pack. And McIlroy, who is looking to win his fifth major today, knows that more of the same will go a long way to helping him win his second Open Championship.
"I've got a lot of belief in myself, I've done it before and I know I can do it again. I need to stay in my own little world, shoot a good score and hopefully that will be enough," he said.
"It would mean everything because of everything I've been through in the last few years and trying to get that fifth major. I need to keep the same mindset that I had today and the past three days.
"I need to stay in my own little world and I know if I play my game I can shoot scores like this on this golf course. Then, if I can do it one more day, I will give you all the superlatives if that does happen!"
He'll certainly have the crowd behind him, the roars when he chipped in from the bunker at the 10th were heard across Fife and one surprise fan is none other than Scottie Scheffler. The World No 1 is five shots back on 11-under and if he cannot mount a title charge today then there's little doubt who he'd like to see lift the famous Claret Jug.
" I was like, they're chanting his name out there. I think he's definitely a crowd favourite. How can you not root for Rory?" Scheffler said.
The leaders get underway at 2.50, so stay here for all the action on what could prove to be a dramatic day.