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Rory McIlroy has tipped his cap to 150th Open champion Cam Smith, saying "I got beaten by a better player this week" and calling the Aussie's 20-under total "really, really impressive."
McIlroy and Hovland led Smith by four heading into the final round but Smith, the new World No.2, carded an eight-under-par 64 on Sunday, which featured eight birdies, ten pars and no bogeys.
"Disappointed obviously. Yeah, I felt like I didn't do much wrong today, but I didn't do much right either," McIlroy said after his two-under-par 70, which took him to 18-under-par and a 3rd-place finish.
Video: Perks of winning The Open
"It's just one of those days where I played a really controlled round of golf," McIlroy said. "I did what I felt like I needed to just apart from capitalising on the easier holes -- around the turn, 9, 12, 14. If I had made the birdies there from good positions, it probably would have been a different story.
"But, look, I got beaten by a better player this week. 20-under par for four rounds of golf around here is really, really impressive playing, especially to go out and shoot 64 today to get it done. Yeah, I'll rue a few missed sort of putts that slid by. But it's been a good week overall.
"I can't be too despondent because of how this year's went and this year's going. I'm playing some of the best golf I've played in a long time. So it's just a matter of keep knocking on the door, and eventually one will open."
The Northern Irishman has had a stellar Major season in 2022 without winning one, as his eight-year drought stretches into a ninth year. He was 2nd at The Masters, his best ever finish at Augusta, and was 8th at the PGA Championship and T5th at the US Open.
Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Honma TR20
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi
Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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