Cameron Smith finishes the best putter on and off the greens
“It’s unreal to look at the names on this trophy and then see mine… I’m lost for words.”
Cameron Smith – winner of The Open
I have played, caddied, and coached at the Old Course. I know St Andrews too well. My first experience: 1995 to witness Rocca’s dramatic finish on the so-called valley of sin, holing his legendary putt to play off John Daly. 1998 as a delegate to the world science golf congress where I first met Dr. Lu Riccio the godfather of statistics. Thanks to Lu I went on to 2016 at the University of St Andrews where I co-presented with Swiss PGA Karim El Baradie the “4 shots Rule” that led me to become Best International Teachers on 2020 GolfDigest list.
Now, I’m a resident in Scotland East Lothian once home of Willie Park Sr. In 1860 Willy won the first Open at St Andrews and further three after that (1863, 1866, 1875).
Stéphane at Inveresk cemetery at Musselburgh
The 150th Open: the greatest!
The first ever 18-hole course was constructed at St Andrews in 1764, establishing the now recognized standard for the game. King William IV honored the club with the title ‘Royal & Ancient’ in 1834. With that recognition and its fine course, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews was established as the world’s premier golf club.
The 150th Open at St Andrews was the largest in the Championship’s long history, with a record-breaking 290,000 fans. I live only about an hour away of St Andrews. I had no plan to go as I was neither a player, caddie nor a coach. Instead, I chose Sky Sports GOLF, one comfortable sofa and drank many cups of tea.
Former Open champion Paul Lawrie had been given the honor of hitting the first tee shot at the 150th Open Championship. Before Lawrie’s tee shot everyone had already said everything: Greg Norman not welcomed at the diner championship and speculations on Tiger retiring from competitive golf.
When the Fairways are faster than the Greens
As from my side of the 150th story, I was interested to benchmark the putting of Brandon Wu and Ryan Fox because I know them personally and they both play great golf. Wu qualified for the PGA tour within one year after turning pro and finished 6th at the Scottish Open and Fox went from 213 to 46th on the Official World Golf Ranking within 6 months!
It must be the first time that the fairways were faster than the greens… and according to everyone says, at the Old Course, it’s on the greens that the Claret Jug is won.
“I think the fairways are faster than the greens.”
World no.1 Scottie Scheffler, stunned by The Open championship conditions.
The Open: mastering the giant greens and putting from the fringe made the difference
Let’s have a closer look on what happened to Wu, Fox and Cameron Smith on the putting: when you do the comparison at the cut line after 36 holes (Wu and Fox missed the cut line) all you can read is Wu, Fox and Smith all faced above 1,000 feet of first putts distance!
According to GolfDigest’s analysis, the average size of the greens at St. Andrews is over 22,000 square feet. If you consider the double greens, the average size for the 18-hole equivalent is still over 13,500 square feet. In comparison, the average size of the greens of a U.S. course is about 5,000 square feet.
The consequence: Cameron Smith gained 13 shots over Wu and 14 over Fox! These two didn’t accompany Cameron until Sunday.
“It’s just unreal… The putter felt hot all day. I knew if I could get within 15-20 feet, I could have a look and I got away with it.”
Best putter from Thursday to Sunday
On the last round, despite a better Long Game Index, Rory was probably not having the best sensations on the greens as he needed 36 putts, where 29 were enough for Cameron.
“I felt like I didn’t do much wrong today, but I didn’t do much right either[…] It’s just one of those days where I played a really controlled round of golf.”
Back nine Sunday was mainly an amazing birdie strike from Cameron with an up and down on 17th that left Rory 2 shots back from European hopes.
Long Game Index: Quality of long game. The lower, the better. You can get your Long Game Index by registering to CaddiePlayer by Hello Birdie.