Smith wins Tournament of Champions

Australian golfer outplays top-ranked Rahm with final-round eight-under-par 65


AFP January 10, 2022

LOS ANGELES:

Australia's Cameron Smith outdueled top-ranked Jon Rahm down the stretch Sunday to win the PGA Tournament of Champions in record-shattering fashion, firing a final-round eight-under-par 65.

The 28-year-old from Brisbane finished with the lowest 72-hole tournament score in US PGA Tour history, shooting 34-under 258 on the par-73 Plantation Course at Kapalua, Hawaii.

"We were trying to get it to 35-under," Smith said. "Missed it by one but I'll take the W."

Rahm fired a 66 to finish second on 259 with Australian Matt Jones third on 260 after matching the 18-hole course record with a 61.

All three beat the old PGA 72-hole record low score in relation to par in a 72-hole event, the 31-under by South African Ernie Els at Kapalua in the 2003 Tournament of Champions.

Last-pair partners Smith and Rahm traded birdies like boxers exchanging punches down the back nine.

Rahm sank a 14-foot birdie putt at the par-3 11th to pull within a stroke and both birdied the 13th, 14th, and par-5 15th as the drama built with pars for each at 16 and 17 and birdies for both at the par-5 18th.

"Unreal round, something I'll never forget for sure," Smith said.

"It was intense. Jonny and I played well all day and Matty was playing well in the group in front of us."

Rahm was stunned after the round that he wasn't celebrating a victory.

"It feels really strange to shoot seven-under and almost be complaining because it should have been a lot lower," Rahm said. "Every reason to be smiling but one.

"It's a weird feeling. I played great golf, I shot a low score, shot 33-under, and I still lost by one.

"Bittersweet moment. I lost. I had a lot of chances I could have converted."

World number 22 Smith, a 2020 Masters runner-up, claimed his fourth US PGA Tour victory, having taken the 2017 and 2021 pairs titles in New Orleans and the 2020 Sony Open in Hawaii.

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