Cameron Smith made The Players Championship’s longest week worth the wait.
Smith made a dramatic end to five days of high drama and bad weather by one-putting eight of his nine last holes with his pure stroke. He also delivered one of his most gutsy shots for the cushion he needed.
Smith led by two on the par-3 17th, 135 yards from the hole. Smith split the difference in 12 feet, which separated the flag and the water. The ball was 4 feet away, and Smith made his record-breaking 10th birdie.
It turned out that he actually needed it. Smith punched right from the pine straw, just off the 18th fairway, all the way to the water. After a penalty drop Smith’s 60-yard wedge spun to 3 feet next to the hole for a birdie and a 6-under-66. This gave him an unbeatable victory over Anirban Larhi of India.
Lahiri, who had a one-shot lead going into the final round, birdied the 17th hole and needed one more to force a playoff. His pitch was just short of the cup and he came up short on the green. He finished with a score of 69.
Paul Casey shot 69, and suffered a terrible break on the 16th hole. He was in a position to move closer to the lead.
Smith finished at 13-under 275 and won the second year and fifth times in his PGA Tour career. He also took home $3.6 million from the $20,000,000 purse, which is the largest in golf.
It was more than money. He earned a three-year exemption to all four majors, and a five year exemption on the PGA Tour.
It was about the family. Smith was so calm under the intense pressure on Monday that featured 26 holes, and choked up when Smith spoke about his sister and mother, who he hadn’t seen in more than two years due to travel restrictions Down Under during pandemic.
Smith lives about five miles from his Ponte Vedra Beach home, and he joyfully went to the airport last Wednesday for a special reunion.
He won the largest prize in golf, second only to the majors.
Smith stated, “It’s really awesome to have them here.” “My primary goal was to spend time with them. Second was golf. It was nice to see them, and it was nice to win for them.”
Lahiri made one big mistake on the par-3 eighth. He hit a tee into a palmetto tree, which forced him to drop to the concession area. This led to double bogey. He dropped it as his only shot of the day. His best finish on the PGA Tour was achieved with a $2.18million consolation prize.
“I’ve been here seven-years; I haven’t crossed the finish line yet. Lahiri stated that this is a monkey she wants to rid herself of. “Today was a great opportunity. It was a great experience. I made some mistakes today, but it’s golf.
Casey was, however, the victim of bad luck. Smith was two shots ahead of Casey and in the same group when he appeared to have a huge advantage on the par-5 16. Smith duck-hooked the tee shot to the pines. Casey drove his drive down the middle. The ball took one more roll down the fairway in the pouring rain, and it landed right on the pitch mark of another player.
He had to hit it short instead of using a mid-iron to the par 5. He was just inches from the green, and needed to get relief from the sprinkler head. Smith reached the fairway and hit the par.
They moved on to the 17th where Smith’s 9 iron was more bold than he expected.
He said, “I would be lying if it didn’t push me a little bit.”
It doesn’t matter. He won the birdie and is now No. 6.
A week of TPC Sawgrass was complete. The first round, which lasted 54 hours 16 minutes, concluded on Saturday morning. Half of the field was ravaged by the wind. It was difficult for everyone because of the bone-chilling temperatures on Sunday. It was The Players’ first Monday finish since 2005.
Smith made it so memorable for many other reasons.
Kevin Kisner shot a total of 68 on his final four holes to place fourth. Kisner is well-known for saying that 20th place pays very well. Fourth place in the premier tour event is also a good choice. He was awarded $980,000.
Keegan Bradley was one of four players to have a chance in the final hour. After a birdie at the 16th, he was only one shot behind. He then three-putt 17th from the front green to a backpin, and then took double Bogey 18th when his shot from the trees went hot and ended up in water. He finished fifth with a score of 68.