Cameron Smith survives 18th-hole hiccup to win first Players Championship

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — All day, Cameron Smith was in management. 

The 28-year-old Australian with the stringy mullet was accountable for his sport. 

He was accountable for the remainder of The Players Championship area in Monday’s last spherical on the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. 

And he was accountable for his feelings. 

Even when he created a couple of queasy moments for himself, letting some gamers again into the match with a gaffe or three alongside the best way, Smith remained in management proper up to the post-tournament awards ceremony when he was reminded in regards to the presence of his mom, Sharon, and sister Melanie. 

Until this week, Smith, who makes his dwelling in Jacksonville Beach, hadn’t seen both of them for greater than two years due to the strict COVID-19 journey restrictions again dwelling in Australia. 

“I haven’t seen them in two years,’’ Smith stated along with his voice cracking and his eyes tearing up. “They came visiting final week and golf actually took a again step. I hadn’t seen them for therefore lengthy and all I needed to do was hang around with them. It’s so cool to get a win for them.’’ 

Smith, who in January gained the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii at 34-under par, did it a unique means throughout this making an attempt week at Sawgrass, the place a sequence of climate delays coupled with one of the troublesome golf programs on the planet turned this factor into survival of the fittest because the match bled right into a fifth day Monday. 

He completed 13-under par, one shot higher than Anirban Lahiri, who was making an attempt to grow to be solely the second participant from India ever to win a PGA Tour occasion, and gained $3.6 million. 

Smith shot a very-eventful 6-under-par 66 in Monday’s last spherical, which included a record-tying 10 birdies. He one-putted eight of his last 9 holes to stave off Lahiri (12-under), Paul Casey (11-under), Kevin Kisner (10-under) and Keegan Bradley (9-under) amongst different challengers. 

Cameron Smith plays his tee shot on the par 4, 14th hole during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass on March 14, 2022 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Cameron Smith hits a tee shot throughout The Players Championship.
Getty Images/David Cannon

He seized the lead early in his spherical with birdies on his first 4 holes and 5 of the first six. 

The fantastic thing about his spherical, although, was how Smith rebounded from his a number of wobbly moments — the hairiest of which got here on the 18th gap, the place he pushed his drive into the pine straw to the suitable of the golf green and punched his second shot too exhausting, rolling it into the water. 

A Lahiri birdie on the par-3 seventeenth gap behind him had diminished Smith’s lead to two photographs. Smith then made a nervy up-and-down for bogey, leaving Lahiri to have to birdie 18 to drive a playoff. 

Lahiri hit his tee shot to the middle of the golf green, however adopted that with a poor method that landed wanting the inexperienced. His try to chip in for birdie stopped about 2 ft wanting the cup and Smith was champion, hugging his mom and sister. 

“I used to be clearly very pissed off at myself,’’ Smith stated of the error on 18. “For considerably of a simple chip shot, in all probability the best shot I had all day, to hit it within the water was fairly irritating. [I] simply bounced again very nice and pleased with the best way I hung in there.’’ 

Cameron Smith holds the trophy after winning THE PLAYERS Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Cameron Smith holds the trophy after profitable The Players Championship.
Erik S LesserR/EPA-EFE/Shuttersto

Lahiri was visibly distraught after his muffed method shot. 

“I hit such a very good drive,’’ he stated. “I didn’t flip via [the second shot] and I form of hung it out a bit bit and it didn’t come again. That was disappointing, as a result of I couldn’t have put myself in a greater place.’’ 

Lahiri, who’s by no means gained on the PGA Tour, was each crushed by not profitable and buoyed by being in rivalry in such a large match. 

“I’ve been right here seven years [and] haven’t gotten over the road but,’’ he stated. “That’s undoubtedly a monkey I need to get off my again. Today was nearly as good a possibility as any. But I gave it a very good go. 

Anirban Lahiri plays his second shot on the par 4, 18th hole the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass on March 14, 2022 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Anirban Lahiri reacts after taking part in his second shot on the 18th gap.
Getty Images/David Cannon

“I’ve gone via two years of taking part in horrible,’’ he went on. “It’s been a very long time since I’ve been on this place and since I’ve performed on this place in a high quality area like this. This is big, as a result of while you undergo such a lean interval for such a very long time, you begin asking your self, ‘Man, was that a flash in the pan? What are you doing? You haven’t performed good in so lengthy.’ 

“Your perception takes successful.’’ 

Smith, who elevated to No. 6 on the planet rankings, carried out like a participant who had extra perception than anybody within the area. 

“I really feel as if I’m taking part in the perfect that I’ve ever performed,’’ he stated. “I used to be hitting the ball very well. I felt actually assured with my irons. My driver bought a bit bit skewy the final form of 12 holes, however was ready to form of scramble round and hit actually good iron photographs after I wanted to. I felt as if I had it below management.’’ 

Right up till his feelings took over when he noticed his mom and sister on the finish of the day.

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