He had to hold off the top-ranked player in the world, but Cameron Smith officially kicked off 2022 with a win in Hawaii.
Smith posted a final round 65 to get to 34-under on the week and keep just a step ahead of Jon Rahm to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions, his fourth career PGA Tour win.
“Man, it was intense,” said Smith, who entered the week ranked No. 21 in the Official World Golf Ranking. “Johnny and I played well the whole day. We had many in the group in front lighting it up as well. Unreal round, something I’ll never forget for sure.”
Smith, who earned his spot in the small winners-only field with a victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last season, entered Sunday tied with Rahm for the lead — though the duo held a huge five-shot advantage over the rest of the field. The Australian held at least a share of the lead after every round at Kapalua, too.
Smith jumped out to an early two-shot lead over Rahm on Sunday, too. That didn’t last long after Rahm made four birdies in a five-hole stretch early on the back side to get right back in it.
Thankfully for Smith, he matched Rahm with birdies on three of those holes to keep him just one back.
Smith then entered the final hole up one, and nearly reached the green at the par-5 in two. He left a deep putt for eagle from the edge of the green just short. Rahm narrowly missed his eagle putt, and tapped in for birdie to get to 33-under on the week.
That pressure didn’t bother Smith one bit. He sank his short birdie putt to get to 8-under on the day and win the event. His 34-under also set a new PGA Tour scoring record for the lowest score ever recorded in a 72-hole event.
“I was just trying to hit one shot at a time, I know that sounds cliche,” Smith said. “We spoke about it earlier in the day, we wanted to get to 35-under. We missed it by one. So in that sense disappointing, but happy to come away with the W.”
Rahm finished one shot ahead of Matt Jones, who posted a 12-under 61 on Sunday to get to 32-under. Jones tied the course record at Kapalua, which Rahm and Justin Thomas each hit on Saturday. Patrick Cantlay, who won the FedExCup last season, finished in fourth at 26-under.
The Tour will remain in Hawaii next week for the Sony Open before the West coast swing kicks off with The American Express on Jan. 20.