22 May 2023 | Professional golf |
The PGA: Cam Davis surges to his best major finish
by Tony Webeck
A career-best tie for fourth at the US PGA Championship has secured Cam Davis an invitation to the 2024 Masters. On a pulsating final day in which Aussies Davis and Cameron Smith equalled the low final round score in a PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club, Brooks Koepka (67) reasserted his status as a monster in the majors with a three-stroke victory in New York. Leading by one at the start of play on Sunday, Koepka took command with three straight birdies from the second hole, the first time a 54-hole leader at a major went 3-under or better over his first four holes in Round 4 since our very own Ian Baker-Finch on his way to victory at The Open at Royal Birkdale in 1991. Playing partner Viktor Hovland responded with back-to-back birdies at four and five, the pair separated by a single stroke after both dropped a shot at the par-4 seventh. The margin was still one when both made birdie at the short par-4 14th but Koepka would put one hand on the Wanamaker Trophy with a three-stroke swing at the par-4 16th. As Koepka made birdie from five feet, Hovland was forced to take a drop after blasting his second shot from the fairway bunker into the grassy lip. That led to a double bogey which gave Koepka a four-stroke advantage with just two holes to play. As Koepka closed out his third PGA Championship win, Davis was ensconced in the clubhouse, the first to post 3-under thanks to a superb 5-under 65 final round. Rounds of 71-70-71 had Davis tied for 16th through 54 holes and he fell back further with a bogey at his opening hole. A birdie from 10 feet at the par-3 fifth got the New South Welshman back square for his round before he closed out the front nine with birdies from three feet and 30 feet at eight and nine respectively. Four pars followed before Davis hit possibly the shot of the week at the par-4 14th. He launched his tee shot 319 yards to just seven feet from the hole and converted the eagle putt to move into red figures for the week. A final birdie from 12 feet at 17 would prove to be crucial, finishing level with Kurt Kitayama (65) and Bryson DeChambeau (70) in a tie for fourth at 3-under, his best finish in a major championship. “Every time you have a really good round under tough conditions, it’s just another little positive voice in the back of your head that, yeah, I can do this,” said Davis, who will receive an invitation to Augusta National next year as a top-four finisher and will be exempt into the US Open next month if he moves inside the top 60 on the Official World Golf Ranking from his current position of 68th. “Even when it’s difficult – even when the rough is really deep and the pins are tight and firming up quick – you can still play really good golf and make a score, especially toward the end of a major. “That’s where I want to be. I’d love to win one or more of these for sure. “This is just one more step towards that goal for me. “I might have played my way into the other majors now, which was a pretty good goal to come out of it.” Like Davis, Cameron Smith soared up the leaderboard on Sunday into a share of ninth at 1-under par.
The pair tied the low fourth round in a PGA Championship at Oak Hill and, with his Open defence just two months away, showed Smith that he is back near his best. “It’s starting to feel really nice,” was Smith’s summation of his game after a more productive day with the driver on Sunday. “I think a little bit too much time off with the golf clubs probably has delayed how I wanted to start the year. Now it’s starting to feel really nice. “I’m starting to feel confident with those irons, which when I’m playing good golf, that’s where I feel like I’m at. “If I’m in the fairway and I have an iron in my hand, I really feel like I can be competitive out there, and that’s what I’m doing.” A tie for 18th will secure Special Temporary Membership of the PGA TOUR for Min Woo Lee, who birdied the first and 18th holes in his round of 1-over 71. Kiwi Ryan Fox (71) also earned Special Temporary Membership of the PGA Tour with a tie for 23rd as Adam Scott squeezed inside the top 30 with a closing round of 1-under 69. Final scores
1 Brooks Koepka 72-66-66-67—271 T4 Cam Davis 71-70-71-65—277 T9 Cameron Smith 72-72-70-65—279 T18 Min Woo Lee 73-67-71-71—282 T23 Ryan Fox (NZ) 68-73-71-71—283 T29 Adam Scott 68-74-74-69—285 T40 Lucas Herbert 75-69-72-70—286 MC Jason Day 76-72—148 MC David Micheluzzi 76-73—149 MC Steven Alker (NZ) 80-72—152
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