PGA Tour | Players Championship


Australian Cameron Smith recorded the biggest victory of his career, winning the Players Championship in Florida, to claim the A$5 million top prize, the biggest individual prize money in golf history.

It’s his second win in five starts this year, having also won the season-opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

Smith shot a final round 66 to finish at 13 under, a clear round over Indian Anirban Lahiri.

The victory was sealed with a remarkable tee shot on the iconic 17th hole, a par three with an island green that has seen many defeats over the years.

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Smith hit a 9-iron from one yard, although he later confirmed he was aiming for the middle of the green and shoved it to the right, leaving him with a simple birdie putt.

“I would be lying if I didn’t push him a bit, I was trying to hit him over the bunker and hold him against the wind,” he conceded after the round.

“The wind didn’t really do much, maybe it held him up until the end and it was just great.”

There was one final twist though, when Smith found the water with his second shot at 18, although a delicious corner set up a short putt to save bogey.

In a remarkable round of contrasting fortunes, Smith birdied his first four holes, as well as the 6th, to move up the standings, only to return the shots with bogeys on the 7th, 8th and 9th holes.

Cameron Smith makes clutch stoppage at The Players Championship

He opened the back nine in a similar fashion, birdying 10, 11, 12 and 13, before making clutch saves at 14 and 15.

In an extraordinary display, he putted eight times in his last nine holes.

However, standing on the par-five 16th tee with a two-shot lead, Smith snagged his ball in the pine straw, leaving him no choice but to run back onto the fairway. He found the green with his third shot and nearly made the 15-yard putt for a birdie.

Meanwhile, his rivals were finding trouble, in some cases through no fault of their own. England’s Paul Casey, playing with Smith, had the opportunity to capitalize on the Australian’s problems in the 16th, to find his tee shot, which split the fairway, coming to rest in a ball mark left by a previous player.

Casey had no chance of going to the hairpin, which was dangerously close to the water, instead forced to lie down, from where he could only make par.

Former US PGA Champion Keegan Bradley looked likely to post 11 under, putting some pressure on Smith in the closing holes, but Bradley’s tee shot at 18 went very well and he fired his punch in the water.

Smith is the fifth Australian to win the tournament, joining Steve Elkington (1991 and 1997), Greg Norman (1994), Adam Scott (2004) and Jason Day (2016).

Endnotes:

– 275

276 – Anirban Lahiri

277 – Paul Casey

278 – Kevin Kisner

279 – Keegan Bradley

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