Sam Burns ends his Open Championship campaign with a flourish

American Sam Burns produced the finish of the week with four birdies over his final four holes to shoot 64 and give hope to the pack chasing 150th Open Championship leaders Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.

The 25-year-old, whose round matched Australian Cameron Smith’s best-of-the-week effort on Friday, was three under to the turn but failed to birdie the par-five 14th.

But he then finished with four successive threes, including a brilliant approach to the notoriously difficult 17th, to get to six under for the tournament.

While that did not challenge the first page of the leaderboard – McIlroy and Hovland were 16 under and were not due to tee off until 2.50pm.

“It’s probably the most benign conditions we have had all the week: it’s a little bit softer with the rain and not as much wind so it is definitely more gettable,” he told the PA news agency.

“That (finish) was nice. I just hit the correct shots and get it in there pretty close and make putts.

“It’s always nice to finish that way. Just unfortunate to shoot 64 in the final round and still finish 40th.”

There were plenty of opportunities to pick up shots on Sunday with the Fife links more forgiving after overnight rain and very light morning winds.

South Africa’s Garrick Higgo carded five birdies and the day’s first eagle in a round of 66 with former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama registering seven birdies in his 67.

Rory McIlroy tees off on the 18th at St Andrews
Rory McIlroy goes in search of his first major in eight years in the final round of The Open (Jane Barlow/PA)

McIlroy is confident he can get the job done and win his fifth major, eight years after his last success in golf’s elite events.

The Northern Irishman lifted the Claret Jug in 2014 and won the US PGA Championship a month later, having made his major breakthrough at the US Open in 2011, but a barren period has followed.

He has had 16 top-10 major finishes since, including three this year, and came into the event in some of his best form in recent years.

“I finished off enough golf tournaments in my time to feel like I know what to do,” he said.

“I just have to do my thing and I’ve been doing my thing for the last three days and it’s put me in a good position.”