Smith and Blixt prevail at Zurich Classic
LOS ANGELES: Australia’s Cameron Smith clinched his maiden PGA Tour title yesterday, rolling in a birdie putt on the fourth hole of sudden death to clinch victory with partner Jonas Blixt at the Zurich Classic.
Smith, who had earlier missed a birdie putt to win on the opening playoff hole, made no mistake at the second opportunity to seal a win over Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown at the TPC Louisiana.
Smith, who earned a PGA Tour exemption through to 2019 with the victory, was lost for words immediately after his triumph.
“I can’t even talk,” Smith told reporters on the green, his eyes brimming with tears.
It was left to partner Blixt to pay tribute to the 23-year-old, who signalled his promise with a fourth-place finish at the 2015 US Open after reaching the event through qualifying.
“I feel like I had the best partner here,” Blixt said of Smith.
“He’s been playing great all week. He’s going to be a superstar one day. I’m very proud of him. Having seen the way he plays golf, the sky’s the limit for him,” Blixt added.
The playoff had gone to a fourth hole after players on both sides fluffed chances to win on the opening three holes of sudden death.
Kisner and Brown both squandered birdie putts on the 18th to open with a pair of pars, leaving Smith with his first opportunity to roll in a birdie putt for the win.
But the Australian’s nerves got the better of him and he sent his shot just wide, grazing the lip of the cup on the way.
It was Kisner’s turn to miss a birdie putt to win on the second hole of sudden death, again on the 18th. That sent the group to a third hole, the par-three ninth. After Kisner and Brown hit tee shots onto the green but far from the pin, Blixt seemed to have seized control with a superb five-iron which rolled up six feet short of the flag.
But once again with victory begging, nerves struck again, the Swede’s putt trickling past to send it back to the 18th for the fourth playoff hole and Smith’s chance for redemption.
Kisner and Brown had forced the playoff after a sensational finale to Sunday’s fourth round which saw Kisner hole out for an eagle in near-darkness on the 18th to deprive Smith and Blixt of the win.
He’s (Cameron Smith) been playing great all week. He’s going to be a superstar one day. I’m very proud of him. Having seen the way he plays golf, the sky’s the limit for him.