Cameron Smith enjoyed an epic year highlighted by five wins around the world. Chief among the three PGA Tour titles he claimed was the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews, but he also triumphed at the Players Championship and Sentry Tournament of Champions in stunning fashion.
Combine those victories with a personally satisfying victory on the LIV Golf circuit once, he’d left the PGA Tour for LIV in September, and a heartwarming win at the Australian PGA Championship last month, and there are some seriously impressive stats. Here are some of our favourites:
In July, Smith carded a back nine score of 30 in the final round at the Open Championship – which allowed Smith to overcome a four-shot deficit to 54-hole leaders Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland and win the 150th edition of golf’s oldest major. It was the lowest ever nine-hole score by a major winner during a final round. Smith rattled off five straight birdies between the Old Course’s 10th hole and its 14th. He then made pars at 15, 16 and 17 (No.17 featured a now-famous putt around the edge of the Road Hole bunker), before a clutch birdie at the 18th which prevented a playoff with playing partner Cameron Young, who eagled the same hole to finish second, one shot back.
Smith’s 72-hole total of 20-under par at the Open equalled Henrik Stenson’s 72-hole Open Championship scoring record in 2016 and bettered Tiger Woods’ record score at St Andrews (19-under in 2000) by a stroke.
Smith recorded a 72-hole score that was the most strokes under par in PGA Tour history, when he won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in the first week of 2022 in January. He shot 65 at Kapalua in the final round to finish at 34-under (258). Only three players on the PGA Tour had ever recorded a total of 30-under or better: Ernie Els (who set the record at 31-under at Kapalua in 2003); Jordan Spieth (30 under at Kapalua in 2016); and Dustin Johnson (30-under at TPC Boston in 2020).
Smith set an unofficial PGA Tour putting record during the second round of the 150th Open Championship, making 255 feet of putts on Friday at the Old Course at St Andrews (highlighted by a 64-foot eagle putt on the par-5 14th). The total of 255 feet was higher than any player had ever made in one round on the PGA Tour. With that Friday putting masterclass, Smith took the 36-hole lead at St Andrews, and the rest is now history.
Smith one-putted eight of his last nine holes in the final round during his victory at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in March. His eight-one putts on the back nine included a birdie on the famous par-3 17th, after accidentally stiffing his tee shot to close range (he pushed his shot closer to the flag than he actually had aimed) and a three-foot bogey putt he made on the 18th after hitting into the water. That bogey gave him a one-shot victory over Anirban Lahiri.
A jump of 19 places up the Official World Golf Rankings
Smith started 2022 ranked No.21 on the world rankings. His win at Kapalua gave him a maiden berth in the world’s top 10. After winning the Players in March, Smith didn’t leave the top 10 for the remainder of 2022 – with his best position as No.2 after winning the Open. Smith also had a chance to get to world No.1 if he’d won the FedEx St Jude Championship in Memphis in August when he was still on the PGA Tour. Now on LIV Golf, which doesn’t have world ranking points, Smith has stayed at No.3 on the world rankings.
22 birdies at the Masters
The 2022 Masters will feel like a golden opportunity that slipped until Smith can win at Augusta, especially considering he led the field in birdies (22) and par-5 scoring (4.44). Two of those birdies came in the first two holes of the final round, when Smith, playing in the final group with eventual champion Scottie Scheffler, was applying significant pressure on the Texan. But from the third hole, Smith faded to a one-over 73 and settled for a tie for third, his fourth consecutive top-10 at the event (which includes a tie for second in 2020).