Smith survives late scare to win Sawgrass thriller

Cameron Smith earns $3.6m for his victory and guarantees a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour; Paul Casey falls narrowly short in bid to become the first English winner of The Players; Dustin Johnson finishes tied-ninth after equalling course record with final-round 63

By Ali Stafford

Last Updated: 14/03/22 10:33pm

Cameron Smith secured a narrow victory at The Players

Cameron Smith produced a birdie masterclass and overcame a final-hole scare to produce a thrilling one-shot victory at the Players Championship in Florida.

Smith overturned a two-stroke deficit during a dramatic weather-delayed final round at TPC Sawgrass, birdieing five of his first six holes and bouncing back from three consecutive bogeys to start his back nine with four consecutive birdies.

Clutch par-saves at the 15th and 16th were followed by a brilliant birdie at the par-three 17th, giving the Australian a three-shot cushion, only for him to require a gutsy up-and-down bogey at the last – after inexplicably pitching into the water – close to a six-under 66 and set the target at 13 under.

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Cameron Smith opts for a safety-first shot out of the trees on the 18th but over-hits and it runs into the water.

Cameron Smith opts for a safety-first shot out of the trees on the 18th but over-hits and it runs into the water.

The world No 10’s rollercoaster round – containing just four pars – left 54-hole leader Anirban Lahiri requiring a final-hole birdie to take the PGA Tour’s flagship event into extra holes, only for the Indian to post a closing par and leave Smith celebrating the biggest win of his career to-date.

Smith scoops the $3.6m jackpot for his second PGA Tour title in five starts, following on from his Sentry Tournament of Champions success in January, while Lahiri ended the marathon Monday in second spot ahead of England’s Paul Casey.

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Cameron Smith opts for a safety-first shot out of the trees on the 18th but over-hits and it runs into the water.

Cameron Smith opts for a safety-first shot out of the trees on the 18th but over-hits and it runs into the water.

Kevin Kisner finished three back in fourth spot ahead of former PGA champion Keegan Bradley, who contended for large periods during the final day, while Scotland’s Russell Knox claimed a share of sixth and Dustin Johnson jumped inside the top-10 with a round-of-the-day 63.

More to follow…

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