Date: May 02, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

“Superstar” Smith lands PGA title

It took 76 holes, but Cameron Smith is a US PGA Tour champion.

And what’s more, partner Jonas Blixt thinks the 23-year-old Australian is “going to be a superstar” after, remarkably, they didn’t make a bogey all week.

After a painstaking overnight wait and then a four-hole Zurich Classic playoff featuring ice-cold putters, the Queenslander finally drilled an approach close enough that missing a birdie was all but impossible.

And flanked by Swede Blixt, the normally stoic Smith’s emotions bubbled out as he showed he would have been up for a much longer fight to accomplish a childhood dream.

Smith was literally speechless when approached by greenside commentator Dottie Pepper, but the two-year exemption and entry into a swag of key events, including this month’s Players Championship and August’s US PGA Championship will give him ample opportunity to express his feelings publicly.

Not so shy, however, was Blixt, who, in winning his third PGA title, heaped praise on his younger teammate as the spark for their victory.

“It’s different playing golf in these (team) circumstances, and I feel like I had the best partner here – he’s been playing great all week and he’s going to be a superstar one day,” Blixt enthused.

“I’m very proud of him and he should be very proud of himself.”

Blixt tried to respond for Smith to the question of where the win would take the Golf Australia rookie squad member.

“It’s a lot of fun for him now. He gets to pick his own schedule, play the big tournaments and seeing how he plays golf, the sky is the limit for him,” Blixt said.

“Watching him these past four days, I haven’t seen anything that good in an extremely long time. I can’t wait to see what’s to come from him. Just keep it up!”

It was an emotional end to a remarkable tournament with the team format resulting in an epic final-round shootout between Team Smith and their American opponents, Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown.

Only a string of birdies and a remarkable eagle chip from Kisner in near darkness to end the fourth round made the playoff possible.

But when the players returned on Monday morning (local time in New Orleans), gone immediately were all the scoring fireworks as all four players putted poorly, especially from potentially winning positions, to extend the sudden-death shootout.

Smith and Blixt held the upper hand in two of the first three playoff holes, but time and again couldn’t buy the winning putt with the Americans left to watch on.

Kisner, though, had his chance on the second trip up the 18th, but he also missed from inside 3m as the Australian-Swedish combination dodged their own bullet and moved to the ninth for the third fruitless tie-splitter.

But Smith was adamant he would end the drama and nipped a superb lob wedge from 54m on the third trip up the 18th hole to set up a 60cm putt that will change the course of his life.