Cameron Smith’s putter showed up when he needed it this week at The Players Championship, and his wedges helped seal the deal.
Smith required just 24 putts to get around TPC Sawgrass for the final time on Monday, pushing his weekly total to 101. Forty-two of those were one-putts, and 10 of them went for final-round birdies. The masterful performance with the flatstick didn’t go to waste, either, as Smith hit two clutch shots with his wedges on the final two holes to win the $3.6 million first-place prize by a shot over Anirban Lahiri.
Starting the final round two shots back of Lahiri’s lead, Smith birdied five of his first six holes, including holing a 38-footer on the par-4 opener. By the time he got a 9-footer to drop at the par-4 sixth, Smith led by two shots.
Smith then hit a snag with three straight bogeys to cap his front nine before nearly jarring his approach at the par-4 10th and tapping in the skid-stopping birdie putt.
He’d end up birdieing each of the first four holes on the back, including an up-and-down birdie at the short par-4 12th. That run was followed by crucial par saves at Nos. 14 (from 14 feet), 15 (from 7 feet) and 16 (from 4 feet after snap-hooking his drive into the trees).
Full-field scores from The Players Championship
All that set up the shot of the tournament, as Smith accidentally took an aggressive line at the back-right flag at the par-3 17th. He safely found land, inside of 5 feet, and rolled him his 10th birdie of the day to move his advantage to three shots with one hole to play.
He nearly coughed it up, too. After pushing driver into the right trees, Smith got too careless with his punch-out, sending it through the fairway and into the water. Meanwhile, Lahiri made birdie at No. 17 to pull to within two shots.
But Smith clutched up, nearly pitched in with his fourth shot and calmly sank the bogey putt.
He then waited. After Lahiri’s chip to force a playoff came up a few rotations short, Smith celebrated. After more than 11 shots gained on the field with his putter and over 400 feet of putts made, he had won.