Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith survive playoff to claim Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Good mates and occasionally mulleted, Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman have combined to win the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

It took an extra hole to separate the Australian duo of Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith, with the South African pairing, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen.

Smith and Leishman overcame a one-stroke deficit in the final round to close with a 2-under par 70, to tie with the South African pairing through 72-holes.

“It was just such a great week. We come in here quietly confident, I think, and we just knew we had to have a good time, ” Smith said.

“We’ve played well before together in the same type of format. We just went out there and had fun and got it done in the end.”

After a dramatic final few hours that saw the two pairings go blow-for-blow over the closing holes of the Zurich Classic, each team limped home on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana. Twice.

Arriving at the 18th hole locked at 21-under par, the final round alternate shot format saw Cameron Smith and Louis Oosthuizen put their teams in good positions courtesy of solid drives. Lay-ups to a trick green complex were followed by mediocre pitch shots that didn’t give any team a makeable birdie look.

Back down 18 they went for a sudden-death playoff and it was Oosthuizen who was first to crack.

The normally beautiful, reliable ball-striker, sliced his ball into the water putting the Aussies into the box seat. Smith’s drive found the bunker on the left-hand edge of the fairway that Leishman would later describe as a pivotal moment.

A safe escape from Leishman and a solid approach to the green from Smith meant two putts were enough to seal the victory.

“Cam’s tee shot in the playoff. I mean, it’s hard to hit that tee shot having seen Louis just hit it in the water,” Leishman said.

“It would have been very easy for him to hit that a long way left and to get that pretty close to the fairway, that was a big tee shot.”

Earlier it was Leishman turned Australian fortunes around at the short par-4 16th hole on their way to victory.

After Smith’s drive found the water to the left of the green, a penalty drop next to the green left Leishman with a short chip shot up over a rise and down to the hole.

Leishman would later say he joked about making it, hoping positive thinking would will the ball into the hole. Moments later, that’s exactly what the ball did and an unlikely birdie drew the Australians back into a share of the lead.

“I said, Why don’t we just chip this in. It wasn’t the hardest chip in the world, but under the conditions — well, I won’t say it was a must make, but it was certainly very helpful that it went in,” Leishman said after the round.

“I actually forgot to get my ball out of the hole I was so excited. I went over and was high-fiving Cam, and Louis had to throw the ball to me.”

The victory means Marc Leishman now has six PGA Tour career wins and Cameron Smith three. Smith has now won this event twice, winning in 2017 while partnered with Sweden’s Jonas Blixt, the only other time the event has been decided with a playoff.

The win also means Leishman and Smith remain fully exempt through the 2022-23 PGA TOUR Season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.