22 Aug 2021 | Professional golf |
Stunning 60 vaults Smith to lead
by Martin Blake
Cameron Smith has shot a stunning, career-low 60 to vault into contention at the PGA Tour playoffs in New Jersey … but it could so easily have been a magical 59.
Smith, 28, broke the Liberty National course record by two with his 11-birdie round on the third day of the Northern Trust tournament.
It also beat his own personal record by two, but he left the 18th green shaking his head in disappointment.
The Queenslander wedged to just inside four metres at the last hole today, needing a birdie to shoot the elusive 59 that all pros crave. Not since Stuart Appleby closed with a 59 at the Greenbrier Classic in 2010 has an Australian managed it on a major tour.
Smith’s putt for a sub-60 round started left, and stayed left.
“That was a just misread,” he said later. “That’s on me. I thought it was going to come a little bit off the bunker there, but it didn’t. It is what it is.”
He had shot 30 on both the front and back side of the course, almost holing out at the par-three 14th, and actually missing some opportunities in the home stretch – notably at the 15th and 18th, and even at the 16th where he had a good look at eagle. The quality of his wedge play was, as ever, peerless.
When he signed his card Smith led the $US9.5 million tournament by two shots at 16 under par, but he was later caught by world No. 1 Jon Rahm of Spain. They share the lead through 54 holes.
All of them are going to have to wait a while to see who can win, because Sunday’s play has been cancelled because of the threat of a tropical storm coming through the New Jersey area. The PGA Tour has said the tournament will resume on Monday (US time).
Ironically Smith left the course on Saturday angry with the inconsistency of his ball-striking, despite carding a 68.
“I guess that’s just golf, to be honest,” he said. “It’s such a weird game. I was frustrated yesterday. I felt like I was hitting my driver everywhere and I scrambled really well, got the best out of my game. Went home, the body felt different today and the ball-striking was definitely a lot better.”
Smith began the week in 16th place on the Fedex Cup points list but he can leap to the top with a win in New Jersey. No Australian has ever won the Fedex Cup, which concludes in Atlanta in a couple of weeks.
Cameron Davis (68 today) and Marc Leishman (69) are both also projected to get through to the 70 who will compete in next week’s BMW Championship.
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