Last year's Australian PGA Champion Cameron Smith has recaptured his magic in a come-from-behind victory on this year's Australian PGA Championship. His repeat performance is the first successful championship defense since Robert Allenby did it 17 years ago.
Cameron Smith looked like he was going to be playing from the back end all the way through the 18 holes at the Royal Pines when he faced a two-shot deficit on the 12th hole against fellow countryman, Marc Leishman. Both men were favourites for a strong outing, and even hoisting the Kirkwood Cup this year. However, when Leishman missed a par on the 14th, Smith took the opportunity to level and eventually take the lead on the 15th hole, where he putted for a birdie. Leishman had another crack to pull in even but he lost the hunt for a birdie on the 16th that would've pulled him even, and missed a par attempt, decisively giving Smith a two-stroke cushion.
Seems like the 25-year-old pro golfer from Brisbane has a penchant for dramatic endings, rallying from behind in an almost similar fashion on the World Cup of Golf to finish as co-runners-up with Mexico with Marc--who, ironically, was his team mate.
Aside from bringing home the Kirkwood Cup for a consecutive year, this victory will also propel him towards a top-30 seeding, his highest rank so far after starting this year in the top 50.
This would definitely be a huge boost for him to set his sights on a top 20 ranking by 2019. It's also worth noting that a top-30 seeding was part of Smith's plans early this season despite having a winless trip at the PGA Tour in the U.S.
“I’d love to get into the top 20 ... that’s definitely the next big step to get myself in there and get myself in situations to win golf tournaments,”
Meanwhile, the Victoria-native Leishman is still chasing for a first PGA tournament win in Australia. This is the closest he has ever come, although the next season will surely afford him plenty of opportunities to vie for a win on home soil again.
“I was leading by a couple (in Boston) going into the back nine and lost that. That one really hurt, but this probably equally if not more than that,” he said. “You’ve got to handle those things, make the most of the momentum when it’s going your way and try to keep it your way. I had it and lost it, unfortunately.”
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