Cameron Smith of Australia was No. 1 basically all this week.
The 28-year-old Smith led almost from wire-to-wire, closing with an 8-under-par 65 and held off his playing partner, top-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, by one stroke to win in the Sentry Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
“Mate, it was really intense,” said Smith, who claimed his fourth PGA Tour victory in the first tournament of the new year and climbed to No. 10 in the World Golf Rankings. “It took me a while to get into the top 20, so that’s really cool. That was one of my goals this year, to get into the top 10. It’s nice that that’s done and dusted. Hopefully, I can keep cruising up those world rankings.
“Jonny and I both played well all day and there were a number of other guys who went low right behind us. My goal was to finish at 35-under, but I missed by one. It was just an unreal round and this is something I’ll never forget, for sure.
“I was just trying to hit one shot at a time. I know that sounds cliché. I’m just so happy to come away with the W.”
Smith, who also won the 2020 Sony Open in Hawaii in the islands, finished at 34-under 258 to break by three strokes the PGA Tour record of 255 for four rounds, set by Ernie Els of South Africa when he won this tournament in 2003.
Rahm, competing for the first time since playing on the European Tour in Spain in October, have spent the break with his wife, Kelley, and infant son, collected five if his seven birdies on the back nine in a bogey-free 66, but just couldn’t catch Smith.
“I knew I needed birdies and I was just looking at where Cam was at,” said Rahm, the reigning U.S. Open champion. “That was it. This golf course only has one defense and that’s the wind, and it wasn’t windy this week. If people are shooting between 20- and 26- under with 20-mile-an-hour winds, what do you expect us to do when there’s absolutely no wind?”
Matt Jones of Australia made two eagles on the back nine and tied the course record of 61 set by Rahm and Justin Thomas earlier this week to finish two shots back in third, while fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of La Jolla and UCLA was eight behind in fourth after a 67.
Second-ranked Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, the reigning Open champion, shot 62 and was one more down in a tie for fifth with Thomas, who closed with a 65, and Daniel Berger, who wound up at 69.
Kevin Kisner totaled 65 and was 10 strokes behind in a tie for eighth with Sungjae Im of South Korea, who finished at 69, while Cam Davis of Australia wound up at 66 and was another shot back in a tie for 10th with yet another Aussie, Marc Leishman, who came in at 68.
Sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele, the Olympic Gold Medalist, eagled the last hole for a 66 to finish 12th, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama tied for 13th after a 69, while Sam Burns, who started the week at No. 10 in the world, tied for 19th with another 69.
Fifth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis shot 72 and tied for 25th, while seventh-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway and defending champion Harris English finished in a tie for 30th following a pair of 67s.
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