Cameron Smith beats world's best in stunning victory

Published 3:00pm 10 January 2022

Cameron Smith beats world's best in stunning victory
Words by Nick Crockford

Cameron Smith, who learned to play golf at Wantima Country Club in Brendale, has recorded the greatest victory of his professional career.

Smith, world ranked 22 entering the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, held off world number one Jon Rahm, of Spain, in a nail-biting finish.

Both started the day at the top of the leader board in Maui, level on 26 under par, but Smith, who grew up in Bray Park, carded a final round 65 to Rahm’s 66.

There was never more than one shot between them in a dramatic birdie-filled finale which saw Smith’s 34 under become the lowest winning total under par in PGA Tour history.

The battle even went right down to the final green with the former Pine Rivers State High School student holing a putt of just over 1m for a sensational victory.

'Pretty crazy'

It capped a remarkable week of 31 birdies, three eagles and three dropped shots for Smith, who still found time to record and send a message to everyone at the fifth Cameron Smith Junior Classic held at Wantima, on Friday.

Smith, 28, won $US$1.476 million ($A2.05m) and his fourth US PGA Tour victory has reportedly moved him into the world’s top 10, at number 10, for the first time. In 2011, after one tournament, he was 1401.

“It was pretty crazy,” Smith said, at the winner’s press conference broadcast on pgatour.com.

“Playing with Jonny (Rahm) it felt like I needed to make a birdie to keep up with him …. or stay in front. The putts kept going in, that was the key to the weekend.

“Being the leader is not easy. Restless sleeps. I feel like I spent a lot of time looking at the ceiling!

“I’ve not done (lead like) that before. It was nice to see where my game is at compared to the best in the world.”

'Greatest win'

John Victorsen, the professional at Wantima Country Club, where Smith played as a junior and is still a member, said: “Going wire-to-wire, two rounds alongside Jon Rahm … incredible.

“It has to be Cam’s greatest win and a huge confidence boost for him this year. He had a good long break and may have worked on his driver, which was excellent.”

Of Smith’s dramatic winning putt, Victorsen said: “That’s the stuff you practice since being a kid. Over and over.

“He may have done it on the putting green right here - imagining this one for the US Masters, this for the British Open …”

Cameron Smith beats world's best in stunning victory
Cameron Smith, centre back row, on his last visit to Wantima in 2019 with the CSJC winners.

Ken McKay, former Junior Co-ordinator at Wantima and founder of the Cameron Smith Junior Classic, described Smith's performance today as "pretty special".

"Cam did what Cam does," McKay said, "when it's effectively head-to-head, in a matchplay situation, he's unstoppable.

"At no point did he visibly look under pressure. It was like he had ice in his veins. So focussed. He had a job to do and got it done. 

"I would love to have been there to watch it."

Smith's next outing is at the Sony Open, also in Hawaii - a tournament he won two years ago.

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