Gerald Herbert

Mixed final round for Lowry as Australia's Smith claims Players Championship

Meanwhile, Séamus Power and Rory McIlroy both finished on three-under for the tournament.

IT WAS A MIXED final round for Shane Lowry at the PGA Tour’s Players Championship, as he finished in a tie for 13th place after carding an even-par 72.

Lowry, who went into the final round three shots off the lead, drifted out of contention as he picked up three birdies and three bogeys throughout to finish on six-under for the tournament.

It was a frustrating end for the Offaly man who lit up the tournament with a famous hole-in-one at the 17th on Sunday.

Australia’s Cameron Smith charged to victory at the weather-disrupted event, carding a closing six-under-par 66 to win by one shot

The 28-year-old Queenslander roared into contention on a congested final day at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida with five birdies in his opening six holes.

Meanwhile, Séamus Power and Rory McIlroy both finished on three-under overall after respective final rounds of 70 and 66. McIlroy grabbed an impressive four birdies throughout his final round, along with an eagle on the par-five 11th.

Power picked up four birdies between the 11th and 16th holes as well as a pair of birdies on the second and third holes. However, his final round was hampered by a double-bogey on the 17th and a pair of bogeys on the first and fifth.

It was Smith’s second victory of 2022 following victory at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January, and was made even sweeter by the presence of his mother Sharon and sister Mel to witness the victory.

Smith said he had not seen his family for more than two years until recently due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

“It’s really cool to have them here,” Smith said, his voice cracking with emotion. “My main priority was just to hang out with them.

“Golf was second for these few weeks, so it’s nice to see them and nice to get a win for them.”

Smith’s final round 66 left him on 13 under 265, one ahead of India’s Anirban Lahiri, who shot a closing 69. England’s Paul Casey was third on 11 under while Kevin Kisner was fourth on 10 under.

Weather disruption that wiped out swathes of play on Thursday and Friday meant the final round was only completed early Monday, with Smith two adrift of Lahiri, the 54-hole leader on nine under.

Smith’s final round got off to a flying start, with a 38-foot birdie putt on the first to move to within one of the lead.

Another birdie on the second gave him a share of the lead, before he took sole possession of the top of the leaderboard with a third straight birdie on the third.

- Sensational start -
He went two clear with his fourth birdie on the fourth.

Another birdie putt from 10 feet on the sixth hole preserved his two-shot advantage before three straight bogeys on the seventh, eighth and ninth holes allowed England’s Paul Casey and Keegan Bradley to join him at the top of the leaderboard.

But Smith then responded with a sensational start to the back nine which mirrored the start of his round, making four straight birdies on the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th to regain a two-shot lead.

There was a wobble on the par-five 16th when his tee-shot flew into the trees flanking the left hand edge of the fairway. But he recovered brilliantly to make par.

Then on the iconic par-three 17th, Smith bravely blasted a nine iron to four feet for a birdie which left him three shots clear heading to the 18th.

Yet there threatened to be a plot twist at the last, when another wayward tee shot left him in the rough amongst the trees.

An attempt to chip safely onto the fairway ended in disaster when the Australian’s ball rolled into the water forcing him to drop.

But once again Smith’s iron play came to the rescue.

He stroked a fourth shot to four feet, leaving him with a straightforward bogey putt to limit the damage.

Lahiri meanwhile, who had closed to within one of the lead after a birdie of his own on the 17th, then failed to chip in from 41 feet on the last to leave Smith alone at the top of the leaderboard and celebrating a $3.6 million payday.

– © AFP 2022

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