13 Jan 2020 | Professional golf |
Smith triumphs in Hawaii for first individual win
by Martin Blake
Cameron Smith’s long-running battle to win a US PGA Tour tournament as an individual is over.
Smith, the 26-year-old Queenslander who rates as one of the best young players in the world, won a playoff against American Brendan Steele in wet conditions to take out the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club near Honolulu.
The former Australian amateur champion and Presidents Cup star’s only previous win on the tour was in a teams event, the 2017 Zurich Classic with Jonas Blixt.
It was the second Australian victory inside 24 hours for Australians, with Adelaide’s Wade Ormsby having taken out the Hong Kong Open on the Asian Tour on Sunday.
“That’s one I’ve been wanting to tick off for a long time,” he said later. “I’ve been out here for five years now and to finally say I’ve won an event myself is quite good.’’
The Australian victories come in the midst of an unspeakable fire tragedy, with players including this week Smith agreeing to donate chunks of money to the bushfire funds. After his win, he said it had been a fine day for Australian golf with Ormsby winning too. "Me winning, hopefully it brings a little bit of joy to some people going through tough times”.
Smith started the final round three shots adrift of Steele, and playing alongside the American and Kevin Kisner in the final group, he had a fluctuating day.
The world No. 54 birdied the first hole from close range and was quickly within a shot of the American.
But at the par-three 11th hole, Steele holed out from a plugged lie in the greenside bunker and was out to a three-shot lead again. At the 15th, the Queenslander appeared to have lost his chance when he made bogey from the right, greenside bunker, but it was far from over. Steele bogeyed the 17th hole from behind the green and once Smith hit a nice bunker shot at the par-five 18th and rolled in a birdie putt from just inside three metres, he was in a playoff at 11-under par.
Up the 10th hole they went, and Steele blew his approach over the green and made bogey. Smith, uncomfortably placed in the right tree-line, hit a gorgeous short iron in close from 100 metres and two-putted for the par that won it. “You hang in there and ‘waddaya know’?’’ he said later.
Smith has been trending up for a while now, particular in the light of his victory over Justin Thomas in singles at the Presidents Cup. He was also runner-up in the World Cup in Melbourne at the end of 2018 with Marc Leishman, representing Australia.
It was also a big week for 24-year-old Sydney player Cameron Davis, who finished tied-ninth after a closing 68. It was Davis’ best-ever finish in a US PGA Tour event.
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