AVONDALE, La. — Cameron Smith‘s aggressiveness on the TPC Louisiana’s water-lined sixteenth gap appeared to doom his group’s possibilities of successful the Zurich Traditional when his 294-yard drive bounced off an embankment close to the inexperienced and into the water.
Smith’s teammate, fellow Australian Marc Leishman, then flipped the script with a deft chip.
Leishman made birdie after a penalty drop within the tough, about 23 toes from the pin, pulling him and Smith right into a tie with the South African duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel that wasn’t damaged till the Aussie pair gained the primary playoff gap on Sunday.
“[Smith] hit a very good shot. It was the correct membership and the correct shot, simply drifted a bit of within the wind,” Leishman mentioned. “I used to be simply concentrating on my sport, and I used to be fortunate sufficient to be on the up slope.
“It wasn’t the toughest chip on this planet, however underneath the situations, effectively, I will not say it was a must-make, nevertheless it was actually very useful that it went in.”
Smith and Leishman ended it with a par on their second journey up the par-5 18th, after Oosthuizen pushed his tee shot into the water and narrowly missed an 11-foot putt for par.
“Disenchanted, however I felt we performed effectively, gave ourselves a great deal of alternatives,” mentioned Oosthuizen, who was in search of his first win for the reason that 2010 British Open. “Now we have a second. I really feel subsequent time we’ll come again and get the primary. However so a disappointing solution to end like that.
“It may have gone any approach, the way in which we performed in regulation.”
The Australians compelled the playoff by taking pictures a 2-under 70 in alternate-shot play on the PGA Tour’s lone regular-season group occasion for a four-round 268. Oosthuizen and Schwartzel started the spherical with a one-stroke lead however shot a 71 with three pars and two bogeys.
“It was actually powerful,” mentioned Smith, whose earlier victory got here on the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2020. “That again 9 was brutal, however we hung in there.”
It was Smith’s third profession victory and second on the Zurich, which he gained with Jonas Blixt in 2017, the primary 12 months New Orleans’ PGA Tour cease switched from a standard particular person format to an occasion that includes 80 two-man groups. That first victory additionally got here in a playoff.
“I suppose I am good at selecting good companions,” Smith mentioned. “We had such a very good week on and off the golf course.”
It was Smith’s finest consequence since tying for second on the pandemic-delayed 2020 Masters in November. It is also was his sixth prime 10 for the reason that present tour season began.
It was Leishman’s sixth profession victory, his finest consequence since tying for fifth on the Masters this month and his first win for the reason that 2020 Farmers Insurance coverage Open.
The climactic end capped off a compelling duel between two groups that teed off collectively within the ultimate grouping and took turns holding leads that by no means grew to greater than two strokes.
Smith made birdie putts of 9 toes on the par-5 seventh and seven toes on the par-3 ninth to tug his group even atop the leaderboard. The Aussies went in entrance on 10, when Schwartzel’s strategy landed within the bunker and his group two-putted for bogey.
Smith and Leishman took a two-shot lead on the par-5 eleventh, the place Leishman drove 307 yards into the green and Smith despatched the group’s second shot 265 yards to the inexperienced, establishing a birdie.
However they gave a stroke again on 13 when Leishman’s drive went into the TPC Louisiana’s trademark, towering, old-growth cypress tree that stands alone like a monolith within the fairway. That compelled the group to take a drop that led to a bogey.
The South Africans moved again into the lead on 15, the place Schwartzel adopted up Oosthuizen’s 205-yard strategy shot with a virtually 15-foot putt for birdie, whereas Smith, whose strategy had fallen wanting the inexperienced, narrowly missed a 13-foot putt for par.
“However on this sport, we’ve been round lengthy sufficient to know it is not over till it is over on the finish,” Schwartzel mentioned. “It was a curler coaster of feelings, although.”
After the eventful sixteenth left each groups at 21 underneath, they every bogeyed the par-3 seventeenth and parred the par-5 18th to complete regulation at 20 underneath.
Smith and Leishman every earned $1.07 million for the victory — a consequence that additionally compelled Smith to deal with a promise he’d made to chop his mullet coiffure when he gained a event.
“I must apologize to my girlfriend; it is not going away,” Smith mentioned. “I really feel prefer it’s a part of me now.”
Leishman affirmed Smith’s resolution, noting that Smith “has acquired a cult following now” due to his hair.
“You need to hear the followers on the market,” Leishman mentioned. “They’re throughout it. It is superior.”