11 Mar 2024 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Smith, Lee show great signs ahead of majors

by Paul Munnings

Cam Smith

With their first majors of the year looming, Cam Smith and Minjee Lee are trending in the right direction.

Smith, the 2022 Open champion, was beaten in a playoff by Mexico’s Abraham Ancer in the latest LIV Golf event in Hong Kong, his best result for 2024 with the trip to Augusta National now just a month away.

After rescuing a par thanks to a great approach shot on his final hole, Smith finished alongside Ancer and England’s Paul Casey at 13-under after three rounds, highlighted by a 6-under 64 on day two.

Ancer birdied the playoff hole, while his opponents had to settle for a bogey, with Smith not able to get up and down from a plugged lie in the greenside bunker.

“It was a step in the right direction this week,” said Smith, who had started the final day six strokes back.

“Played some really patient golf over the weekend. A lot different than the first few weeks.”

Smith came into Hong Kong with a previous season best of T8 in his opening event of the year.

In China, Minjee Lee was in contention throughout the Blue Bay LPGA tournament, eventually finishing in a tie for fourth at 13-under, six shots behind the winner, American Bailey Tardy.

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The world No.5, who won this event in 2016, led after a first-round 65 but gave up her advantage with a 72 on day two.

Lee has her sights on the first women’s major for 2024, the Chevron Championship, which starts on April 18.

Gabi Ruffels turned in a solid week in her second LPGA event of 2024 to end up T15.

On the secondary Epson Tour, Cassie Porter started her year in fine style, finishing third, just two shots out of a playoff, at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic.

Cam Davis was the best-placed Australian at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA TOUR, finishing in equal 18th after a closing round of 2-under 70 at Bay Hill improved his position by 13 places.

Only four players shot in the 60s on Sunday, led by a 66 from world No.1 Scottie Scheffler who triumphed by five shots.

Meanwhile, on the PGA TOUR Champions, Greg Chalmers produced a top 10 on debut, claiming a share of seventh at the Cologuard Classic, just four shots behind the winner, Joe Durant.

“I am so excited!! T7 gets me into the next event in a week..this has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my career,” Chalmers said on X/Twitter.


Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Florida

1 Scottie Scheffler 70-67-70-66--273 US$4,000,000

T18 Cam Davis 72-70-74-70--286 $289,000

T36 Jason Day 70-74-73-73--290 $88,375

T44 Min Woo Lee 69-73-76-73--291 $64,000

MC Adam Scott 73-76

Puerto Rico Open

Grand Reserve Golf Club, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

1 Brice Garnett 66-66-68-69--269 US$720,000

T23 Aaron Baddeley 70-69-67-70--276 $32,333

T42 Harrison Endycott 69-71-68-70--278 $13,423

MC Gareth Steyn (a) 71-73

MC Geoff Ogilvy 71-75


Blue Bay LPGA

Jian Lake Blue Bay Course, China

1 Bailey Tardy (USA) 68-70-66-65--269 US$330,000

T4 Minjee Lee 65-72-70-68--275 $95,907

T15 Gabi Ruffels 72-71-68-70--281 $29,247

MC Karis Davidson 72-75

MC Robyn Choi 75-73

DP World Tour

Jonsson Workwear Open

Glendower Golf Club, Edenvale, South Africa

1 Matteo Manassero 68-61-67-66--262 €255,000

T17 Jason Scrivener 68-66-70-68--272

LIV Golf

LIV Golf Hong Kong

Hong Kong Golf Club, Sheung Shui, Hong Kong

1 Abraham Ancer 63-62-72--197 US$4,000,000

T2 Cam Smith 67-64-66--197 $1.875,000

T2 Paul Casey (Eng ) 66-67-64--197 $1.875,000

(Ancer won on first playoff hole)

T15 Lucas Herbert 70-64-67--201 $278,750

T21 Matt Jones 64-68-71--203 $204,286

T29 Marc Leishman 68-68-69--205 $165,000

Champions Tour

Cologuard Classic

La Paloma Country Club, Tucson, Arizona

1 Joe Durant (USA) 67-66-67--200 US$330,000

T2 Steve Alker (NZ) 69-68-65--202 $161,333

T7 Greg Chalmers 67-70-67--204 $59.086

T17 David Bransdon 66-70-70--206 $32,065

T21 Steve Allen 71-68-68--207 $23,833

T21 Mark Hensby 71-66-70--207 $23,833

T27 Michael Wright 72-69-67--208 $18,260

T32 John Senden 71-67-71--209 $14,850

T43 Richard Green 75-67-69--211 $8800

T49 Rod Pampling 70-70-72--212 $6380

T61 Stuart Appleby 70-73-72--215 $3300

Korn Ferry Tour

Astara Chile Classic

Prince of Wales Country Club, Santiago, Chile

1 Taylor Dickson 68-67-70-66--271 US$180,000

T47 Curtis Luck 65-75-70-71--281 $4310

MC Rhein Gibson 75-66--141

MC Brett Drewitt 72-70--142

MC Charlie Hillier (NZ) 75-70--145

Epson Tour

Florida's Natural Charity Classic

Country Club of Winter Haven, Winter Haven, Florida

1 Valery Plata (Col) 70-66-70--206 US$37,500

3 Cassie Porter 69-69-70--208 $17.092

MC Amelia Garvey (NZ) 77-73

MC Su Oh 76-79

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