Clutch Cameron Smith holds his nerve to clinch record-breaking Maui win

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Cameron Smith is a champion golf needs.

RELATED: Full ranking | Winner’s bag: Cameron Smith, Sentry Tournament of Champions

Do not mistake yourself. There is no shortage of great players and personalities on the PGA TOUR; the opposite, in fact. But in Smith, we get a real “everyone”. Or in his native language, a handsome Dinkum dude we can all relate to.

The 28-year-old earned his fourth PGA TOUR victory with a record breaking week in Maui in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, finishing 34 under with rounds 65-64-64-65, scoring the most under par in a Tour of four laps in history.

He managed to fend off a fierce challenge from world No.1 Jon Rahm in the process, with the Spaniard settling for second after Smith beat his 8 Under 65 on Sunday to his 7 Under 66. In the front group, compatriot Matt Jones set a course record of 61 to keep the two on their toes.

The victory was a milestone in Smith’s evolution as he seeks to prove himself against the best. He held the advantage after the first two laps, then shared it with Rahm for three laps before closing the deal.

“It was intense,” Smith said of the challenge. “Jonny and I played well all day. We had Matty in the squad up front also lighting him up. So, yeah, an unreal round, something I’ll never forget for sure.

“Rahm is the best golfer in the world and there are a number of reasons why he is. He pulls it and it looks like he’s draining every putt he looks at, so it was good to get over that and kick in a few hits back.

“I played very solid all week. Obviously, being a leader is not easy. Agitated sleep. I feel like I spent a lot of time staring at the ceiling in bed this week. I haven’t done this before. It was nice to see where my game was against some of the best players in the world. I worked hard and it paid off at the start of the season.

The result catapulted Smith to No. 10 in the official world golf rankings, his first appearance in the top 10, and No. 3 in the FedExCup. He must now reset some of his Season Objectives, having already achieved them.

“It took me a while to get into the top 20 so it’s really cool,” Smith said after lifting the trophy in Kapalua. “It was one of my goals this year, to get into the top 10. It’s good that it’s done and dusted off. I hope I can continue to progress in these world rankings.

Smith has a great chance to do so next week, as he heads to the Sony Open in Hawaii. He won at Waialae CC in 2020 and is now one of six players to secure Hawaii’s double from the PGA TOUR.

One of his goals is to lead the International Presidents Cup team to a much-anticipated victory over Team USA at Quail Hollow later this year. There is no doubt that Smith has the potential to be the spiritual leader of the international team for the next decade and beyond, such is his thirst for combat.

Smith made his Presidents Cup debut in 2019 at Royal Melbourne, but it’s no secret he was pushed to miss two sessions under captain Ernie Els. The lust in his stomach helped him overcome a three-hole singles deficit to defeat Justin Thomas and keep the Cup alive at the time before the international team fell, 16-14.

2022 Captain Trevor Immelman knows he will have a fierce competitor this year.

“I really want to be a part of this team,” said Smith. “I enjoyed the tournament so much the last time I would be devastated if I missed it. And that’s one of my goals since I turned pro to be on the team, and I’ll try to be there again.

Coincidentally, Smith’s record-breaking 34-under performance at Kapalua took a record from Els, who before this week held the TOUR scoring record with a total of 31 under at the 2003 Sentry Champions Tournament (Rahm and Jones have also beat Els’ mark this week). But there is no bad blood between the two. Smith understood and accepted Els’ tactic in Melbourne which nearly won the international team’s first victory over the United States since 1998. He wasn’t going to sulk about it, just prove his worth when his luck ran out. presented.

Smith is modest. Smith is humble. And while some say that the fact that he sports an eye-catching mullet and mustache combination is an odd juxtaposition to those traits, the reality is that his style isn’t for show. It’s just who he is.

Born with modest means in the working-class suburb of Brisbane, Australia, Smith refuses to let his success go to his head. He wants to make the most of his talent, but he won’t compromise on who has to get there. His family, friends and countrymen wouldn’t let him do it anyway.

He’s not here to impress anyone. He doesn’t get upset about what other people think of him. If he’s the best version of himself, he’s happy. Something inside a lot of us wants to be like Cameron Smith.

“There is no real reason to change my personality. I think my dad would whip me, to be honest, if I did, ”he joked with a laugh. “That’s just how I was brought up. I was raised to be the kind of modest guy who respects everyone… and why would you try to be someone you’re not? “

Last year, Smith was asked what he would do if he won the $ 15 million FedExCup bonus. He said he would help his family and maybe buy some more fishing gear. After winning $ 1.476 million in Maui – “I’m going to have to sleep on this, to be honest. I mean, I’m pretty happy with where I am at. I know mom’s car is probably four or five years old, so maybe a new car for mom.

Yes, he also thinks first of his mother at such times. He’s the champion we need.

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