In almost 70 years of the PGA Tour, no player has finished a tournament as many strokes under par as Smith, who carded a flawless eight-under-par 65 to finish at 34 under and one stroke clear of world No.1 Jon Rahm to secure a wire-to-wire win in Maui.
The Queenslander held playing partner and fellow overnight co-leader Rahm (66) at bay all day in a thrilling final-round duel to win the opening PGA Tour event of the year in style.
Smith joined Steve Elkington (1992, 1995), Stuart Appleby (2004, 2005, 2006) and Geoff Ogilvy (2009, 2010) as the fourth Australian to win the tournament.
Compatriot Matt Jones charged home with two eagles on the back nine in a sparkling 12-under 61 to grab third spot at 32 under as he also took advantage of the favourable scoring conditions on the Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort.
The top three all bettered Ernie Els’s PGA Tour record for shots under par, set at 31 under at Kapalua in 2003.
“Mate, it was intense. Jonny (Rahm) and I played well the whole day and we had Matty (Jones) in the group in front lighting it up as well,” Smith said moments his fourth the PGA Tour victory.
“Unreal round, something I’ll never forget for sure.”
Smith made eight birdies, including one on the 18th, as he fended off Rahm while Jones backed up a third-round 62 with an even more remarkable 18 holes to set a PGA Tour record for the lowest two-round score.
Jones’s round included holing out for eagle on the 13th and a 4-foot eagle putt on the 15th as he made multiple eagles for the second successive day.
But Smith, a two-time winner of the teams event in New Orleans, was not to be denied as he held his nerve once again in Hawaii to add to his maiden individual success at the Sony Open two years ago — an event he will return to on Thursday full of confidence.
The 28-year-old is projected to jump from 21st to 10th in the world, to knock off one of his goals for this year, but he still has long-term aspirations of winning a major and topping the rankings to work towards.
“There is obviously a long way to go to get there (to No.1) but still a few things in my game I’d like to make better,” he said.
“I’ve competed well in majors and feel comfortable at them, I just need one good week for it all to come together and I’ll be right up there.”
The victory sets up Smith for a big year, having now won on tour for three successive seasons and making one of his recent records count in the win column.
In November 2020, he became the first player to shoot four rounds in the 60s at The Masters and last year he equalled the mark for lowest putts in a PGA Tour round with 18.
“Obviously the scoring record’s nice. Everyone keeps reminding me about the one at Augusta but I didn’t get the green jacket,” Smith said.
“To be honest, I’m not a massive golf nerd. I don’t really know about records. I’m just out there to, just to compete against the best players in the world.”Jump to next article