An all-or-nothing approach on the 72nd hole backfired for Cameron Smith but the Queenslander remained upbeat after finishing tied for fifth at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Tennessee, his best finish in a WGC event.
In a week highlighted by a round of 62 on Friday that required just 18 putts to equal the PGA TOUR record, Smith stood on the 18th tee on Sunday in the hunt to claim the biggest win of his career.
Needing a par on the last to post 16-under and potentially join the playoff ultimately won by Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, Smith hit his tee shot into the trees right of the fairway.
Eschewing the conservative approach, Smith struck a tree with his second shot, the ball careening out of bounds as he closed with a double bogey and final round of 2-over 72.
“I wanted to win,” Smith explained, who was tied with Harris English at 16-under at the time.
“I didn’t want to chip it out and leave my chances in Harry’s hands. He was still 16-under at the time.
“I wanted to make sure I had a good look at birdie and I just didn’t execute it.
“There was a little gap up there. I had to hit like a medium flight draw and I tried to hit it. I just hit it too far right. The actual flight of it was good, it just hit the tree there on the right.”
Identifying the driver as an area of focus leading into the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Smith said his first priority after a whirlwind few weeks at The Open and the Olympics is to get a fishing rod back in his hand.
“We’ve been pretty busy lately and it’s been hot as well, so it takes it out of you, especially being in contention as well, mentally draining,” said Smith, whose 93 putts for the week was just one shy of the PGA TOUR record set by David Frost at the 2005 RBC Heritage.
“Nice week off on the boat, I’ll be happy.
“I was really disappointed with how I hit my driver on the weekend. A week at home working on the driver, especially for the Playoffs, I think three tough driving courses, I need to get that in shape.”
Smith was far and away the best of the Aussies in Memphis, Adam Scott closing with a 4-under 68 to share 36th position along with Victorians Lucas Herbert (69) and Marc Leishman (73).
Sydney’s Stephanie Kyriacou moved to second on the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit courtesy of her fourth-place finish at the Aramco Team Series – Sotogrande in Spain.
With American Alison Lee racing away with a five-stroke win at the top of the leaderboard, Kyriacou closed with an even-par 72 to improve her position in the Race to Costa Del Sol points race.
In Utah, a run of five birdies in the space of six holes at the Utah Championship has put New South Welshman Brett Drewitt within reach of a return to the PGA TOUR next season.
Starting the day tied for 23rd, Drewitt was losing ground to the field as he made 11 straight pars to start his final round but a regulation birdie at the par-4 12th was followed by four on the trot from the 14th hole to end the week tied for 21st.
As a result, Drewitt moved up one place to 22nd on the Korn Ferry Tour order of merit, the top 25 after next week’s Pinnacle Bank Championship to earn promotion to the PGA TOUR next season.
World Golf Championships
FedEx St Jude Invitational
TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee
Winner Abraham Ancer 67-62-67-68—264 $US1.82m
T5 Cameron Smith 67-62-65-72—266 $380,667
T36 Adam Scott 74-66-70-68—278 $59,000
T36 Lucas Herbert 69-70-70-69—278 $59,000
T36 Marc Leishman 65-71-69-73—278 $59,000
T43 Brad Kennedy 67-70-70-72—279 $53,000
T51 Matt Jones 69-68-74-70—281 $45,000
T51 Wade Ormsby 69-71-68-73—281 $45,000
60 Cam Davis 68-72-73-72—285 $38,000
62 Min Woo Lee 67-75-74-72—288 $37,000
Tahoe Mountain Club (Old Greenwood Cse), Truckee, California
Winner Erik van Rooyen 7-17-10-16—50 $US630,000
T23 Aaron Baddeley 3-10-11-6—30 $32,375
T34 Greg Chalmers 9-6-12-0—27 $18,235
T64 Cameron Percy 5-13-(-1)-0—17 $7,560
T66 Rhein Gibson 6-4-2-3—15 $7,385
MC John Senden 2-4—6
Fairmont St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Winner Grant Forrest 68-68-62-66—264 €189,530
T23 Daniel Hillier 69-70-67-69—275 €12,533
T34 Ryan Fox 74-69-69-67—279 €9,067
T56 Scott Hend 72-69-71-71—283 €4,327
T70 Jake McLeod 75-67-72-72—286 €3,162
T72 Austin Bautista 72-70-74-73—289 €2,660
MC Deyen Lawson 78-71—149
MC Josh Geary 76-75—151
MC Dimitrios Papadatos 72-79—151
Korn Ferry Tour
Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank
Oakridge Country Club, Farmington, Utah
Winner Joshua Creel 63-68-65-64—260 $US108,000
T5 Steven Alker 64-68-69-63—264 $20,900
T21 Brett Drewitt 69-67-66-66—268 $6,336
T55 Curtis Luck 74-62-67-70—273 $2,508
T58 Ryan Ruffels 68-68-67-71—274 $2,436
MC Harrison Endycott 70-68—138
MC Jamie Arnold 69-69—138
MC Nick Voke 70-72—142
MC Brett Coletta 71-73—144
Vierumäki Finnish Challenge
Vierumäki Resort, Vierumäki, Finland
Winner Marcus Helligkilde 61-67-66-71—265 €32,000
MC Bryden Macpherson 72-72—144
Ladies European Tour
Aramco Team Series – Sotogrande
La Reserva Club De Sotogrande, Spain
Winner Alison Lee 65-65-71—201 €25,341
4 Stephanie Kyriacou 67-71-72—210 €7,602
MC Victoria Fricot 82-79-75—236
LET Access Series
Winner Kajsa Arwefjall (a) 69-72-72—213 ——
T53 Kristalle Blum 80-76-77—233 €426
Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship
Battle Creek Country Club, Battle Creek, Michigan
Winner Fernanda Lira 70-65-62—197 $US26,250
T13 Julienne Soo 71-70-67—208 $2,865
T27 Robyn Choi 68-69-74—211 $1,476
T27 Soo Jin Lee 66-70-75—211 $1,476
T64 Julianne Alvarez 71-70-78—219 $572
MC Stephanie Na 74-73—147
MC Hira Naveed 76-76—152
Rose Ladies Series
JCB Golf and Country Club
Winner Gabriella Cowley 72 £10,000
T2 Whitney Hillier 72 £1,417
Scotscraig Golf Club
Winner Caroline Inglis 66 £10,000
T6 Whitney Hillier 71
T17 Amy Walsh 73
Source: Aussies on Tour is a regular roundup of how Australia’s top men and women golfers are performing on the world’s golf tours and is provided by Golf Australia, the PGA of Australia and the WPGA Tour of Australasia