Newsmaker of the month: Cameron Smith
If ever Cameron Smith wanted an insight into what it takes to become the No.1 player in the world, the Queenslander was given a 36-hole, front-row seat at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and stole all the headlines.
Smith’s record-breaking victory to post 34-under par at Kapalua’s Plantation course – the lowest 72-hole score relative to par in PGA Tour history – was done staring down world No.1 Jon Rahm, with Smith’s eight-under 65 getting the better of the Spaniard by a single stroke.
As a result of his fourth PGA Tour win, Smith moved to a career-high of 10th in the Official World Golf Ranking and left Maui with an enhanced sense of belief that the No.1 spot is within his reach.
“There are many reasons why Jon Rahm’s the best player in the world and I witnessed it over the weekend,” Smith said. “To be able to hold him off was quite satisfying.
“I feel like I did a lot of work over the off-season and what better way to start a season than by holding him off.”
It was a record-breaking start to the year for another Aussie in Matt Jones, the two-time Australian Open champion playing the weekend in 23-under par, the lowest 36-hole score in relation to par in PGA Tour history, topping Steve Stricker’s 21-under (61-62) at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic.
Photo by Getty images: Gregory Shamus
Stephanie Kyriacou and Karis Davidson: Will bolster the Aussie representation on the LPGA Tour in 2022 after finishing inside the top 45 at the LPGA Q-Series in Alabama. A scoring discrepancy almost robbed Davidson of her card while Kyriacou finished comfortably inside the cut-off. Sarah Jane Smith retained her LPGA Tour status by finishing tied for 41st alongside Davidson.
Australian Golf Strategy: An initiation between Golf Australia, the PGA of Australia and the WPGA Tour of Australasia, the national strategy is designed to provide a sense of direction for the game at all levels for the foreseeable future. See golf.org.au/ausgolfstrategy for more.
Blake Windred: The Novocastrian broke through for his first professional victory, a chip-in eagle at the 14th hole at Moonah Links providing the momentum to record a one-shot win at the Victorian PGA Championship.
Brady Watt and Grace Kim: Respective men’s and women’s champions of the inaugural Sandbelt Invitational played across four of Melbourne’s most acclaimed courses. Watt’s six-stroke win was set up by a 66 on day three at Yarra Yarra while Kim finished four strokes clear of Su Oh.
Harrison Crowe and Kelsey Bennett: Claimed the respective Victorian Amateur titles in two tight finals at Peninsula Kingswood, Crowe edging Jack Buchanan to go back-to-back, while Bennett defeated Jeneath Wong.
Jack Thompson: Played a superb pitch from left of the green to edge Jordan Zunic in a playoff in the Gippsland Super 6 final, securing his first win as a professional.
Jamie Hook: The Pacific Dunes pro earned a start at the Australian PGA with a two-shot win at the PGA Professionals Championship Final at Links Hope Island.
Kai Komulainen and Sarah Hammett: The amateur stars continued their winning ways with victories at the Greg Norman Junior Masters on the Gold Coast.
Australia lost three accomplished and highly respected members of its golf community in the past month. A winner of 27 events worldwide, including the 1982 Australian Open and 1983 Australian PGA, Bob Shearer was admired as much for his warm and mischievous personality as for his stellar play on the course [see page 22]. The Australian Amateur champion of 1969, Shearer turned professional the next year, winning on the European Tour, PGA Tour, European Senior Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia in the course of his career. He died after suffering a heart attack aged 73.
Long-time PGA member Colin Barnes passed away aged 85. An accomplished club professional and coach, Barnes served as the head professional of Tuggerah Lakes Golf Club for more than 40 years and was a member of the PGA for 67 years. Among the many Central Coast golfers influenced by Barnes were two-time Australian Open champion Greg Chalmers and World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Jan Stephenson.
Australian golf was also saddened by the loss of Justin McKenzie in December aged just 51. The younger brother of PGA Tour Champions player David McKenzie, Justin was an accomplished player and businessman in his own right. He held a number of industry roles including that of club professional at Yarra Valley Country Club and most recently as a House of Golf franchisee. He was considered a highly respected, innovative and generous member of the PGA.