Of all the great golfers to win The Open Championship over the years, just one, that being Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, can say he owns the lowest 72-hole score at golf’s oldest major, which was first played in 1860. At least that’s what we could say until Australia’s Cameron Smith matched the 20-under total with a brilliant performance at the 2022 Open Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews.
It took nearly a century for a player to even finish at 10-under at The Open, as Peter Thomson became the first to do so in 1958 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, which makes the 20-under total all the more impressive.
Up until Stenson’s run at Royal Troon in 2016, only two others had even come close to getting to 20-under, those being Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods, the latter of whom holds two of the five lowest 72-hole scores in the history of The Open Championship.
Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo each shot 18-under to win The Open Championship
Up until 1990, the lowest 72-hole score at The Open Championship was 14-under, which Lee Trevino shot at Royal Birkdale in 1971. But in 1990, Nick Faldo broke that record by four strokes with a phenomenal 18-under performance at St. Andrews.
He opened his week with a 5-under round of 67 and was tied with Greg Norman at 12-under after 36 holes following a second-round 65. A third-round 67 gave him a five-stroke lead after 54 holes, and he won by the same margin with a final-round 71.
In 2006 at Royal Liverpool, Tiger Woods also shot 18-under, shooting 67-65-71-67 in an emotional victory as it was his first win following his father’s death just two months earlier.
Tiger Woods shot 19-under at St. Andrews in 2000 to complete the career Grand Slam
Six years before his win at Royal Liverpool, Woods claimed his first win at the 2000 edition of The Open Championship with a dominant performance at St. Andrews, shooting 19-under to break Faldo’s record.
Coming off his record-breaking, 15-shot win at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Woods began his week at St. Andrews with a 5-under 67 and followed it up with a 6-under 66 to take a three-shot lead into the weekend. He upped his lead to six with a third-round 67 and finished things off with a 3-under 69 to finish at 19-under, eight strokes better than Thomas Bjorn and Ernie Els.
With the victory, Woods, just 24 at the time, became the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam and then went on to win the 2000 PGA Championship and the 2001 Masters to complete the “Tiger Slam.”
Henrik Stenson shot 20-under to win The Open Championship in 2016
Tiger’s record of 19-under stood for 16 years until Henrik Stenson became just the second player to finish 20-under at a major championship (Jason Day shot 20-under at the 2015 PGA Championship) and obviously the first to do at The Open Championship. Dustin Johnson later shot 20-under to win the 2020 Masters.
Following his first-round 68 at Royal Troon, Stenson was five shots back of leader Phil Mickelson, who opened with an 8-under round of 63. After 36 holes, Stenson was just one behind Lefty after firing a 6-under 65 and held a one-shot lead on Mickelson after 54 holes following a third-round 68.
In what many consider one of the greatest final rounds in major championship history, Mickelson played phenomenal golf, shooting a 6-under 65 to finish at 17-under. But Stenson was better as he fired an 8-under 63, at the time tied for the lowest round in major championship history, to finish at 20-under for the week.
Cameron Smith shot 20-under at St. Andrews to win the 2022 Open Championship
With a brilliant performance at St. Andrews, Cameron Smith matched Stenson’s 20-under total at the 2022 edition of The Open Championship.
The 28-year-old Aussie kicked off his week on the Old Course with a 5-under round of 67, three shots back of surprise first-round leader Cameron Young. He followed it up with a phenomenal 8-under 64 in the second round to take a two-shot lead into the weekend.
Playing alongside Young in the final pairing, Smith struggled a bit at times on Saturday, shooting a 1-under 71 to trail co-leaders Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland heading into Sunday’s final round. And what a final round it was.
Again teeing it up with Young, this time in the penultimate group, Smith made eight birdies in the final round, including five in a row to open the back nine, on his way to another 8-under 64 to finish at 20-under.
Young, who eagled the last, matched Tiger’s total of 19-under while McIlroy matched Woods and Faldo at 18-under.
Stats courtesy of TheOpen.com