Cameron Smith has claimed the biggest win of his career – and the biggest pay-day in golf – as a players’ championship that ended in stormy delays and warm sunshine at TPC Sagras on Monday near freezing temperatures.
The 28-year-old Australian PGA Tour’s flagship event – and the পুরস্কার 3.6m first prize – ended at 13-under with a total of 66, one shot from India’s Anirban Lahiri, with Paul Casey finishing third at 69 under 11.
Smith broke four birdie putts in a row from the first hole of the final round and the fifth came off his sixth hole and reached 12 under. But the momentum began to change in the seventh par-four when Casey rolled into his first birdie putt and got between the two as Smith bogged.
And the lead was eliminated in the par-five ninth, with Smith pulling a third boogie carding, and Casey again starting both back nine on nine under as Birdid.
Elsewhere, pressure was coming from American Keegan Bradley, who had four birdies from the ninth to go to the 10 under, while Scotland’s Russell Knox birdied three of his first four holes to reach the ninth under before bogie fading to fifth and seventh.
Round-three leader Lahiri reached 10 under after seven holes, but a double bogie in par-three eighth seemed destructive to the Indians. However, he hit an eagle at 11 to return to the hunt at 11 unders.
While Smith was on another birdie run, he reached 13-under with four consecutive holdings from the 10th and kept the daylight between himself and the field.
Casey hung out with the Birdies on the 11th and 12th to go 11-under, but his fortunes ended in 16 par-fives. After a big drive, his ball ended in a dive, threatening him with water on the right side of the green, preventing him from going in the green for two.
Cassie had to be equally consistent, as Smith and the Australian extended their lead with birdies in par-three 17 after hitting his tee shot four feet.
Lahiri, who was in the backseat, also birdied the 17th to move between the two, and he saw Smith from the 18th fairway, who inadvertently hit his second in the water from a tree, making a small hole for a bogie.
This required a birdie to force Lahiri to play-off, but his vision became smaller than the green and when his birdie chip became one foot smaller than the hole, Smith could finally celebrate.
“I feel like one of these adults was the next step for me,” said Smith, who won the Champions Sentry Tournament in January. “I knocked on the door a few times and I felt like it was my time. I’ve played my best so far, I’ve eaten a lot of quality golf shots and haven’t backed down. “
Cameron Smith’s winning gear
Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10 °)
Farewell Woods: Titlelist TSi2 3 (15 °), Titlelist TS2 7 (18 °)
Iron: Mizuno Pro Flee-High (3), Titleist T100 Black (5-9)
Wedges: Titleist walkie-talkie SM9 (46 °, 52 °, 56 °, 60 °)
Potter: Scotty Cameron 009M prototype
Ball: Titlelist Pro V1x