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Smith wins Australian PGA in play-off
December 04, 2017
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Gold Coast: Cameron Smith claimed the Australian PGA championship when he beat fellow Australian Jordan Zunic on the second play-off hole on Queensland’s Gold Coast on Sunday.

Smith and Zunic finished the tournament locked at 18 under par 270 on Royal Pines Resort course. Smith started the day three shots behind Zunic but fired his fourth consecutive sub-70 round with a four-under 68 to peg back the overnight leader.

“I tried to stay aggressive all day,” Smith said.

“With Jordan’s lead that he had, I thought that I had to stay aggressive. I knew he was playing well.”

The 24-year-old Smith grew up in nearby Brisbane and is considered the rising star of Australian golf. He grew up watching fellow Queenslanders Adam Scott and Jason Day.

“Jason was just kind of coming out of junior golf in Queensland as I was going into it, so I used to go and watch him and stuff like that,” he said.

“I remember going out with dad and mum watching Adam and those type of guys up there (at the Australian PGA) in Coolum.

“And then it was really one of my goals, I wanted to win one and just being in Queensland makes it a little bit more special.”

The win was the second of his professional career and follows his success at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans alongside Sweden’s Jonas Blixt on the US PGA tour in May.

Zunic was disappointed, particularly after his superb eight-under round of 64 on Saturday. But the 25-year-old from New South Wales could not find the same touch as he did on Saturday, his three birdies spoilt by bogeys on the first and 10th holes in a one-under round of 71.

“I felt really good, had a good mindset all day,” Zunic said.

“But I didn’t quite hit it as well off the tee today, which didn’t give me as many birdie opportunities.”

Smith scrambled to save par on the first play-off hole then took advantage on the second when Zunic found a fairway bunker. When Zunic’s par-saving putt lipped out, Smith was left with a simple three-footer to win the title.

The win makes Smith eligible for the European Tour, who co-sanctioned the tournament, but Smith said he had not thought that far ahead.

“I didn’t even realise that that was what happened,” he said.

“I didn’t even know. I might go over there for a few weeks and maybe do a little playing holiday type thing, I’m not sure.”

Adam Bland finished one shot behind Smith and Zunic, three shots clear of Marc Leishman and David Bransdon. Defending champion Harold Varner III was in sixth place on 12-under, while US Masters champion Sergio Garcia faded in the final round with a two-over 74 to finish on six under in a tie for 24th.

Woods stumbles

Tiger Woods’ hopes of a fairytale return faded on Saturday after an error-strewn round saw him tumble down the leaderboard at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

After solid displays on his opening two rounds had left him at seven under par for the tournament, the former world number one suffered a torrid third round with a three-over-par 75.

“Anything that I did right ended up in a bad spot, and then anything I did wrong it was really bad,” Woods said. “It was just one of those days.”

It left the 14-time major winner at four under, 10 shots off the lead held by American Charley Hoffman on the par-72 Albany Golf Club course.

Hoffman countered two bogeys and a double-bogey with six birdies in a two-under 70 and a 14-under total of 202.

American Jordan Spieth and England’s Justin Rose were tied for second five shots back, Rose after a one-under 71 and Spieth with an even par 72.

Woods, who is playing for the first time since February, was in trouble from the opening hole, hitting his tee shot at the first into the sand bordering the fairway.

His second shot hit a rock hidden in the sand, leaving him with a difficult up and down to save par. He reached the green in three but missed the putt to make bogey.

A further bogey followed on the third when an attempted chip onto the green struck the bank and rolled back. Two more bogeys on the sixth and seventh put him four over for the day as his challenge threatened to unravel, and a further bogey on the 10th further deepened the gloom.

But Woods kept battling away and finally started getting some joy from his putting, to finish with two birdies on the 14th and 17th holes to claw back two shots.

After rolling in his putt at 14, Woods doffed his cap and gave fans a little bow.

Agence France-Presse

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