Forced to return on Monday for a playoff, Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt needed four extra holes to beat Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown and claim the Zurich Classic trophy.
After storms delayed play on the Sunday at TPC Louisiana, the sudden-death playoff between the American pairing Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner, and Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt was forced to be played on Monday morning.
Meaning those Australians who were still awake late on Monday night were treated to some live, tense golf and the conclusion of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
After the heroics of Kisner on the final hole on Sunday when he chipped in for eagle, and indeed a final round full of birdies for all players, it was surprising that it took four holes for any of the four players to card a birdie in the unique teams format. And when Cameron Smith did, the 23-year-old Australian claimed victory for himself and Sweden’s Jonas Blixt.
Playing four-ball as they did for the final round, all four players had to settle for par on the par-5 18th hole with only Smith with the length to find the green in two. Smith just missed a good birdie opportunity on the first hole, and Kisner missed one on the second.
When the sudden-death playoff went to the par-3 9th hole, and both Smith and Blixt fired in great tee shots within 10-feet of the hole the playoff looked over. But Smith missed his putt to the left, and Blixt’s birdie attempt from 6-feet never got close to the hole and players were heading back to the 18th for a fourth playoff hole. Tuesday finish anyone?
Smith didn’t get his tee shot this time and was forced to lay-up with the other three players, but his extra length got his golf ball closer to the green. Much like the pitch shot Smith hit the evening before, the Australian fired in a wedge the bounced and stopped three-feet behind the hole. It was enough to be assured of birdie which was good enough to see Blixt and Smith take the Zurich Classic trophy.
One shot. Birdie to win.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 1, 2017
The victory has huge significance, particularly for Smith.
While this was Blixt’s third PGA Tour win – his first since 2013, both players receive a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, 400 FedEx Cup points and an invitation to some of golf’s biggest tournaments including THE PLAYERS Championship and the US PGA Championship.
So. Much. Emotion.
How does it feel, @CamSmithGolf?
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 1, 2017
The enormity of the victory was not lost on Smith as emotions overcame the young Queenslander and he couldn’t speak during the interview after the win. Blixt did all the talking for the pair and was gushing in his praise for Smith.
“It’s different playing golf in these (team) circumstances, and I feel like I had the best partner here,” said Blixt. “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 confirmed what many Australians in the golf community have suspected for some time. After Smith arrived on the big stage and made a name for himself at the 2015 US Open with an incredible fourth place finish at Chambers Bay, just two shots behind eventual winner Jordan Spieth, the 23-year-old has been touted as Australian golf’s next big thing.
This first PGA Tour victory may have just given Smith a boost the perfect place to begin to take centre stage again. Who knows? Maybe one day he’ll become the most famous Cameron Smith in Australia.