Cameron Smith wins Sentry Tournament of Champions in record-setting fashion

KAPALUA, Hawaii – No one has ever finished a PGA TOUR event with more shots under par than Cameron Smith, and he needed each of them to survive Jon Rahm and win the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

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In the best scoring conditions Kapalua has seen in the 24 times he has hosted the winners, just at the start of the new year, Smith has been relentless all day until the 3 foot birdie putt he hit on the 18th hole for an 8. -under 65 and a one-shot victory on Sunday.

Smith, who jumped 30 places to number 3 on the FedExCup chart, finished 34 under 258, a tournament record of three hits. Ernie Els won at 31 under in 2003, and that was the PGA TOUR record for under-par shots.

Three players beat him this surreal week on Maui’s western border.

“Round unreal,” said Smith. “Something I’ll never forget.”

Not only did he break the record, the Aussie went toe-to-toe with the number 1 player in the world over the weekend and beat him by one stroke.

Rahm, who plays for the first time since October 15th, did everything he could and Smith never gave him an opening. They started the final round in a draw for the lead. Smith went ahead with a 4-foot birdie putt on the number 4 and a 20-foot birdie putt on the eighth par-3.

Rahm finished in one shot with a 15-foot birdie on the 11th.

They matched birdies and par on the same holes for the rest of the course. Rahm finished with a 66 to finish at 33-under 259.

“I have every reason to smile,” Rahm said of his score. “It’s a bittersweet time.”

Matt Jones of Australia tried to join the race, aiming for the eagle on the 13th, making a 4-foot eagle putt on the 15 and pocketing a 50-foot birdie putt on the 17. One last birdie allowed Jones to equalize Plantation’s course record at 61 – Justin Thomas and Rahm shot at 61 each on Saturday – to finish third.

He was 32 years old under 260.

As of this week, only three players had ever finished a 72-hole event at 30 under or less: Els in 2003, Jordan Spieth at Kapalua in 2016, and Dustin Johnson at TPC Boston wet with rain in 2020.

And then three players passed it in this week of warm, windless weather, along with a soft golf course from the pouring rain before the stronger course arrived. The vegetables were soft and rolled up smooth. There was no way to stop them.

Smith took his fourth PGA TOUR win – two were team titles in New Orleans – and became the sixth player to win both Hawaii stops on the PGA TOUR. He won the Sony Open in Honolulu two years ago in a playoff.

Rahm easily maintained his No. 1 and did little harm on his return from the longest hiatus of his professional career. He had a 20-foot putt birdie to equalize for the lead on the 17th, his last good chance to catch Smith, who narrowly missed.

On the par-5 closing hole, Smith arrived just before the green. His 90-foot putt slowed to a stop about 3 feet from the hole. This meant that Rahm had no choice but to punch a 50-foot eagle putt just off the green, and he was barely missing the high side.

The previous record for low even scoring without winning was Bryson DeChambeau, who last year finished 27 under in the BMW championship at Caves Valley and lost to Patrick Cantlay in a playoff.

Cantlay, who played for the first time since the Ryder Cup, finished with a 67 to finish at 26 under par. This was only good for fourth place this week.

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