The Incredible Mr Smith Triumphs at Sawgrass

Cameron Smith SAM GREENWOOD/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP

Author of an impressive display on the greens, Australia’s Cameron Smith finally won on Monday after a largely weather-interrupted Players Championship. Despite one last scare at the age of 18, the new world number 6 achieves his second success of the year, the most important of his young career, and takes home the top prize of 3.6 million dollars!

It was not the best edition of the Players Championship. First two days buried or almost underwater, more than half of the favorites ruled out due to an unfavorable draw and appalling playing conditions on Saturday afternoon, and then a final game on Monday, made up of players of modest pedigree, which was going hardly arouse the enthusiasm of the American public.

Despite three good laps, the Indian anirban lahiri 322nd player in the world, the American Doug Ghim 252 player in the world and the Colombian Sebastien Munoz The 66th-ranked player in the world was clearly not the favorite of observers and the few spectators who returned to follow the latest chapter of the PGA Tour’s flagship tournament on Monday.

Those who would prefer to bet on the part of the world n°1 Jon Rahm and holder justin thomas hoping to experience strong emotions was also left unsatisfied. The first broke on hole 4 (a 9 synonymous with quintuple bogey, his worst result in a tournament hole) and the second remained very discreet, unable to shoot the birdie machine.

Hole in one and Albatross

But the magic of TPC Sawgrass still worked with an impressive final day.

In terms of highlights, let us note the second hole in one of the week happened in the morning by Victor Hovland or even the albatross at the beginning of the fourth round signed Russell Henley, at hole n°11 (unfortunately lost by the cameras).

For the good mouth, we will not forget the sublime final card of 63 (matched course record) signed Dustin Johnson with a wedge shot for eagle on hole 72. In flexibility. DJ style.

Smith in his garden

And then, above all else, there was this battle for victory and these multiple laps at the top of the leaderboard until the last few holes.

The first to sound the charge was the future winner, cameron smithAuthor of a good start with four birdies in his first four holes.

Fine connoisseur of the place and its pitfalls, since since he settled in Florida he trains here most of the timethe Aussie seemed completely down to his business on the greens he knows like the back of his hand.

But after a 5th birdie in 6 holes, three consecutive bogeys from 7 to 9 came to stop the beautiful mechanics of the Brisbane native.

English Paul Casey, then boiling Keegan Bradley (four birdies in a row from 9 to 12), He took the opportunity to return to his height. The American was particularly interested in erasing his severe sanction of two strokes received in the 2nd round.

In the last part, only the Indian Lahiri managed to appear threatening. After a bad start on the 8th (double bogey), he managed to revive himself with an eagle on the 11th and joined the fight for victory until the last chip.

go crazy

In all, nearly ten players were in winning position until the start of the round when things began to stabilize.

The moment chosen by Smith, the incredible Mr Smith, to pick up his amazing putting lesson where he had left off 4 holes earlier.

With 42 one-putts throughout the tournament, the new world number 6 largely broke the previous tournament record for a winner. (KJ Choi 38 of a putt in 2011).

casey mr bad luck

After his three straight bogeys, Smith started again with a vengeance, again fielding four birdies in a row!

After 13 holes, the “mule cut” player had 9 birdies, three bogeys, and only one par.

A completely insane map worthy of the brilliant architect Pete Dye and his course built for the “show”. On the 14th and 15th, Cam Smith returned another 4m and 3m for the pair…

Then came the turning point of the tournament. While Bradley conceded a three-putt on the 17th and drowned his last hopes in the water on the 18th, Smith went full left in his heads-up on the 16th. He hit just 43% of the fairways this week, the lowest . total of all players who crossed the court…).

In the wake, Casey hit a perfect shot… But his ball stuck in a fairway-filled pitch mark and was left there by an unscrupulous player from a previous group.

A stroke of bad luck for the Englishman unable to attack this par 5 in two in the middle of “money time…”

Cruel but ultimately like a tournament where caprices, mainly climatic, tended to take precedence over performance.

Two shots ahead of Casey and Lahiri, Smith had yet to navigate the terrifying 17th and 18th holes without making a mistake to record a fifth PGA Hole tournament to his name.

The stress of being 17 and his scary green island, you say? Nope! not for Cam Smith! Aligned to the right at the flag, the Australian planted the flagpole to sign as if it were a parade his tenth birdie of the day. Amazing. Three shots ahead.

last turn

More cautious on the next hole, probably too much so, Smith sent his shot far to the right on the 18th. A refocusing shot to the fairway was needed. But his “hit” ball went all the way across the fairway and slid into the water hazard.

For his part, Lahiri signed a good birdie at 17, to give himself the opportunity to reverse the course of history in extremis.

But the impassive mustache found the resources to save the bogey, from a 50-meter approach he dropped to the flag and after a putt that was beyond doubt. In total he only needed 10 putts to complete the last 9 holes.

Lahiri let him miss the opportunity to get the tie break, with an iron shot that was too tight. End of suspense… Cam Smith was able to hug his family who had arrived from Australia a week earlier, after 2 and a half years of forced expulsion due to the pandemic.

But despite the storms, despite the wind, the freezing cold on Sunday morning and a final on Monday without a large crowd, the “Players” once again put on a great show. emotions. And a big winner.

A winner very moved by the evocation of the reunion with his family.

His parents, his sister, stayed away from the prodigal son for two long years. Waiting… as if to underline that this tournament that we thought was “endless”, in the first sense of the term, she ended up finding the epilogue of it.

The video summary of the 4th day

The leaderboard

©PGA Tour

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