The Open

The Punter's Debrief: Smith claims glory in the 150th Open Championship

Golfer Camerson Smith
Cameron Smith is a major champion.

"It was with the flat stick that the Aussie asserted himself. He ranked first whereas McIlroy was 29th."

Matt Cooper sits in for Steve Rawlings to look back at the action in the dramatic final major championship of 2022...

Cam's the man at St Andrews

Let's not muck about. It was the 150th Open Championship at the home of golf, the idea that anyone reading this piece does not know that Cameron Smith claimed the glory is slightly absurd.

The Aussie endured heartbreak in the Masters, being the nearest contender to the eventual winner Scottie Scheffler, but he found water on the back nine and then had something of a form slump as the disappointment sank in.

But through 36 holes in St Andrews he was sensational, especially on the greens. There was a sense that he regressed to mean in the third round, when the red-hot putter of his back nine on Friday went stone cold, but that all changed on Sunday - and on the back nine in particular.

The stats are compelling: Smith was solid Tee to Green, ranking 17th, but the man who spent much of the weekend looking like the winner, Rory McIlroy, ranked first.

It was with the flat stick that the Aussie asserted himself. He ranked first whereas McIlroy was 29th.

I was in his press conference on Wednesday when he said: "I don't want to jinx myself but I'm feeling pretty good."

I then asked the obvious question on Sunday night: "You didn't jinx yourself so spill the beans - how good were you feeling?!"

"I started to feel really good with where my game was at last weekend at the Scottish Open," he said. "I had a really, really solid weekend. I'd played this golf course before, but it had been a while. It was almost like relearning the place.

"I love this type of golf and it suits a lot of Aussies, the firm and fast fairways. Having to hit away from pins, I think, is another one. Aussies are brought up doing that. So, yeah, I just felt really good with where my game was at and how the course was set up."

The market

So what happened with the prices?

Pre-event, Rory McIlroy was the hot favourite at an average of 11.010/1. Jordan Spieth was also popular trading at an average of 20.019/1.

Punters who favoured the former had plenty of opportunity to lock in a profit; the latter never really got involved at the top of the leaderboard.

What about the eventual winner? Smith was backed at 30.029/1 but his average was 26.025/1. Viktor Hovland, who would tussle for the title all weekend, was backed at an average of 65.064/1, a reflection of his poor form and that truth that he'd never landed a major championship top 10.

America's Cameron Young thrashed a first round 64 to land a two-shot first round lead. He'd been backed at 190.0189/1 by some and at an average of 130.0129/1. He was suddenly down to 11.010/1.

McIlroy had tucked into second, two blows back, and excitement was high. He was now 4.77/2. Smith, who was tied third with the unheralded, pre-event 1000.0999/1 shot Robert Dinwiddie, was into 9.89/1.

When Smith opened up a two-shot lead on Young after 36 holes he was the tournament favourite on 3.02/1 with Young at 10.519/2.

McIlroy was still popular at 5.79/2 and some liked that he had drifted a little.

Hovland had drawn level with the Northern Irishman and could be backed at 12.011/1.

Ten holes into the third round McIlroy holed a dramatic bunker shot which changed the complexion of the event. He was now tied for the lead, at 2.829/5 and would shorten thereafter. At that stage Hovland was 5.49/2, Smith 6.411/2 and Young 15.014/1.

By the end of the round McIlroy and Hovland were four clear. The former was now odds on at 1.981/1, the latter was 3.185/40. Smith could be backed at 15.5 and Young at 30.029/1.

Mcilroy preached patience ahead of his final round and it looked a fine policy for much of the first 12 holes. But it changed subtly into a sense of him being becalmed.

In contrast, Smith rediscovered his mojo and thrashed five consecutive birdies to start the back nine which saw him catch and then pass McIlroy.

Even when Mcilroy was first caught he remained odds on - 1.834/5 to Smith's 2.68/5.

But it became apparent when McIlroy failed to break par at the 14th to tie the lead that the advantage was Smith's.

Rory mcIlroy at St Andrews.jpg

There was a brief fear for the Aussie at the 17th, when he missed the green in a nasty position and left himself a long par putt, but the die was cast.

This was a week when Rory backers had a fine run and every chance to get out without any harm. A week when Rory doubters will have made hay. And a week when those with faith in Cameron Smith will have backed him to major glory at a bigger price than he has started recent majors.

Barracuda Championship

Over in the opposite field event in California, Chez Reavie started the week available at 70.069/1, got himself into the top 10 after 18 holes which saw his price drop to 25.024/1 and by the end of 36 holes he was in the lead.

The market liked his chances and he started the weekend around 3.02/1, ended the third round odds on and the market was proved correct as he closed the event out.

Alex Noren opted to stay in the States, even when a spot in the Open was his for the taking. He started the week 20.019/1 but dropped to 55.054/1 when an opening round of 71 left him T58th.

Middle rounds of 66-65 got him back in the hunt and he maintained the push with a final lap of 65. He was backed at a low of 1.51/2, but Reavie prevailed.

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