Cameron Smith's stunning win - reaction from home and in US

Published 10:40am 15 March 2022

Cameron Smith's stunning win  - reaction from home and in US
Words by Nick Crockford

Accolades have poured in for Cameron Smith after he won golf’s biggest and richest tournament, The Players Championship, in Florida this morning.

The 28-year-old, who learned to play and is still a member at Wantima Country Club in Brendale, had a remarkable final round of 66 to win by one shot.

He collected US$3.6 million (A$5m) for winning the ‘fifth Major’, the biggest purse on the US PGA Tour and moves up from 10 to six in the world rankings.

This was also the former Bray Park resident's fifth triumph on the Tour, his second this year - and the greatest of his career.

Emotions were running high at the end. Smith’s victory came with his mum Sharon and sister Mel at the course, the first time they had been together in years, due to COVID.

Smith told Fox Sports: “I haven’t seen them in two years. It’s really cool to have them here.

“My main priority was to hang out with them .... golf was second for these few weeks.”

On his triumph, Smith said: “(Putting) was obviously the big key today. I made plenty of birdies and good par putts. It’s definitely the strength on my game.”

It was, however, a rollercoaster ride over the last 18 holes at TPC Sawgrass course in Florida.

Smith hit 10 birdies, four bogeys, had nerveless putting and what has been described as “the shot of his life".

Leading by two shots, he took on and landed a tee-shot to the right of the flag at the 137-yard 17th hole – something no other player attempted.

Hitting mostly over water, the ball landed just six feet from the flag and gave him a final championship-winning birdie.

It stunned pundits online have described Smith as the “Wizard of Wantima”, “bizarrely unphased by the moment” and “having ice in his veins”.

The shot was described as 'Tiger-esque", in reference to Tiger Woods and US commentator Paul Azinger said on TV: “That’s legacy building right there”.

It gave Smith, a former Pine Rivers State High School student, a three-shot lead going to the final hole where he dropped a shot, but closest rival Anirban Lahiri could not capitalise.

That gave Smith the title by one shot on 13 under par, after rounds of 69 71 69 66 and made him the fifth Australia to lift the trophy.

Cameron Smith's stunning win  - reaction from home and in US
Cameron Smith, who is still a member at Wantima Country Club, Brendale

John Victorsen, the professional at Wantima Country Club, which hosts the Cameron Smith Junior Classic each year, said the key was putting.

“One hundred and one putts for four rounds (72 holes) is going to win tournaments anywhere,” he said.

“It was a phenomenal, phenomenal putting performance. What ever he is doing with his coaches, like Grant Field, I want a piece of it! Just a very small piece of it!

“With that steely resolve, we could see something special this year.”

Victorsen also believed having family with him on the course was important.

“As Cam said so beautifully in his interview, he hadn’t seen his family for two-and-a-half years, but they were there (at Sawgrass). Golf was secondary to that.”


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