Smith sets PGA Tour record score to win Tournament of Champions

By Sports Desk January 09, 2022

Cameron Smith set a record 72-hole score on the PGA Tour as he claimed a stunning triumph at the Tournament of Champions.

Smith entered the final round in a share of the lead with Jon Rahm, who tied the course record with his 12-under-par 61 on Saturday.

Rahm was again in stellar form at Kapalua, going seven under for his fourth round, but came up just short as Smith made the most of favourable scoring conditions in Maui.

The Australian carded a blemish-free eight-under 65, which he capped with a three-foot putt for a clinching birdie.

That saw him improve to a 34-under 258 for the tournament. No man has ever finished as many shots under par on the PGA Tour, with Smith beating Ernie Els' tournament record score of 31 under set way back in 2003.

Rahm also bettered that score, as did Smith's compatriot Matt Jones, who finished 32 under par to claim third place.

But the day and the week in Hawaii belonged to Smith, who has now won the tour for three successive seasons.

"Mate, it was intense. Jonny and I played well the whole day and we had Matty in the group in front lighting it up as well," Smith said.

"Unreal round, something I'll never forget for sure.

"I was just trying to hit one shot at a time, I know that sounds cliche. We spoke about it earlier in the day that 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, making his season debut, understandably took heart from a performance that would under most circumstances have earned him victory.

"I have every reason to be smiling," Rahm said. "It's a bittersweet moment."

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    There will be some high-profile debutants when the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event to be staged in the United States starts on Thursday.

    Three weeks after the inaugural LIV competition at the Centurion Club, near London, took place, 48 players have headed to Portland to tee off at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

    A trio of major champions will appear in the controversial Saudi-backed breakaway league for the first time in Oregon.

    Stats Perform takes a look at the standout new faces who have turned their back on the PGA Tour to make their bows in a three-day LIV Golf Invitational Portland tournament that consists of 12 teams.

     

    BROOKS KOEPKA

    Brooks Koepka is the biggest name to have signed up since his fellow Americans Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson played in the opening event in England.

    The four-time major winner will captain a SMASH GC side that includes his brother, Chase, this week.

    Koepka had tried to fend off questions about whether he would jump ship from the PGA Tour to commit to LIV Golf ahead of the recent U.S. Open.

    "I haven't given it that much thought," he said when asked if he could sign up for a lucrative deal to play on the new tour. "I don't understand. I'm trying to focus on the U.S. Open, man. I legitimately don't get it. You can’t drive a car looking in the rearview mirror, can you?"

    Just a fortnight on, the former world number one said in a tense press conference two days before his LIV bow: "My opinion changed. That was it.

    "You guys will never believe me, but we didn't have the conversation 'til everything was done at the U.S. Open and figured it out. Here I am."

    He added: "Look, what I've had to go through the last two years on my knees, the pain, the rehab, all this stuff, you realise, you know, I need a little bit more time off. I'll be the first one to say it, it's not been an easy last couple of years, and I think having a little more breaks, a little more time at home to make sure I'm 100 per cent before I go play in an event and don't feel like I'm forced to play right away - that was a big thing for me."

     

    BRYSON DECHAMBEAU

    Bryson DeChambeau is another major champion who has defected from the PGA Tour.

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    The 28-year-old will also have captaincy duties, leading the CRUSHERS GC team.

    DeChambeau has not registered a victory since his Arnold Palmer Invitational win last year and will be hoping a change of tour will enable him to experience that winning feeling again.

    He said of his decision to join LIV Golf: "I understand people's decisions on their comments and whatnot. As it relates to me, I've personally made that as my own decision and I won't say anymore on that, there's no need. We're golfers at the end of the day.

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    PATRICK REED

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    "Listen to the players for once," he said. "We actually have an off-season where not only can we get healthy, work on our bodies, but we're basically allowing ourselves throughout the year to, you know, try to peak at the right times is when you're playing rather than feeling like you have to play every single week.

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    Former world number one Koepka had previously stated his allegiance to the PGA Tour and commented in February that "somebody will sell out and go for it".

    Koepka was not involved in the first event at Centurion Club earlier this month and was critical of reporters for casting a "black cloud" over the U.S. Open when players were probed about the controversial Saudi-backed series, which has been accused of sportswashing.

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    "You guys will never believe me, but we didn't have the conversation 'til everything was done at the U.S. Open and figured it out and just said I was going to go one way or another. Here I am."

    Koepka has slid down to world number 19 after contending with a series of injuries to his hip, knee and wrist.

    The 32-year-old believes signing up to the LIV series will allow him more time to recover physically.

    "What I've had to go through the last two years on my knees, the pain, the rehab, all this stuff, you realise, you know, I need a little bit more time off," Koepka said. 

    "I'll be the first one to say it, it's not been an easy last couple of years, and I think having a little more breaks, a little more time at home to make sure I'm 100 per cent before I go play in an event and don't feel like I'm forced to play right away [is good]."

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    While several players have resigned their PGA Tour membership, including fellow defector Patrick Reed, Koepka has not done so as yet.

    It remains to be seen long term what decisions will be taken by the major championships over the participation of players who have jumped ship to LIV Golf.

    Koepka insists he is comfortable with whatever outcome occurs.

    "You play anywhere around the world, you'll be just fine. You'll get into them. I made a decision. I'm happy with it, and whatever comes of it, I'll live with it," he said.

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    Chun finished on five under to win her third major championship, but she entered the weekend with a massive lead after rounds of 64 and 69 had her at 11 under, six strokes clear of the chasing pack.

    Only nine players finished the tournament under par, illustrating the difficulty of the course and conditions at Congressional Country Club.

    In a tie for second was Australia's Minjee Lee – fresh off her U.S. Open win – along with American Lexi Thompson at four under.

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    Thailand's Atthaya Thitikul claimed outright fourth place at three under, two strokes clear of the five-woman pack tied for fifth at one under.

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