Before the event began, only Ernie Els, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth had reached 30-under-par in an official PGA Tour event. By the end of the final round on Sunday, that number was doubled to six! With Cameron Smith, Jon Rahm and Matt Jones all passing the 30-under mark.
In the actual tournament itself, it was Smith who claimed the victory, shooting 34-under-par for the lowest score in PGA Tour history! Picking up his fourth PGA Tour title and second in Hawaii after his 2020 Sony Open success, the Australian surpassed Els’ previous record of 31-under-par which was set in 2003.
“That was intense!” said Smith following the conclusion of the final round. “Me and Jonny (Rahm) played well all day and we had Matty (Jones) lighting it up in the group in front as well, so it’s definitely something I won’t forget, that’s for sure.
“I know it’s cliché, but I was just doing everything one shot at a time. We had spoke about it earlier in the day, but we wanted to get to 35-under and we missed it by one, so that’s disappointing, but I am obviously happy to come away with the W.”
Beginning the final round, it looked as if it was going to be a two-way battle between Smith and the world number one, Rahm, but it soon turned out to be so much more than just a two-way fight.
With back-to-back birdies on the 4th and 5th, Smith also made further gains at the 8th and 9th, giving himself a one shot advantage over Rahm. However, the Australian soon had further challengers in the form of fellow countryman, Matt Jones, who, after two eagles in three holes, found himself just a couple of shots back of the duo.
As Els’ record of 31-under-par was duly passed, both Rahm and Smith picked up birdies at the 13th, 14th and 15th in what can only be described as one of the most enjoyable games of snap you will ever see.
Firing on all cylinders. Cameron Smith is showing no signs of slowing down. pic.twitter.com/7VyHNOG9oLJanuary 10, 2022
Up ahead, Jones was still not giving in. Holing a birdie putt of some 50-feet at the par-4 17th, he would then follow that up with a final birdie at the 18th. This gave Jones a tie for the course record and a 32-under-par tournament total.
If that doesn’t amaze you, then perhaps the thought of Jones being 23-under-par for both Saturday and Sunday will, with his weekend total the lowest 36-hole score to par in PGA Tour history.
Back up the 18th fairway, there was still the small matter of sorting out the winner of the event. With Smith holding a one-shot lead down the last, both him and Rahm would be greenside in two on the monstrous par-5 18th.
Becoming a battle of the flatsticks, the Australian would nosy his putt down to around three-foot, leaving Rahm with no option but to hole his eagle putt. As the Spaniard stepped up, he couldn’t convert, leaving Smith to roll in his historic birdie putt for a victory that will be talked about for some time.
“I feel like I had a really good rest (over Christmas),” said Smith. “I didn’t play much in the fall, instead I actually did some work on my swing and thankfully, it’s worked out,” he added.
Starting 2022 with a win. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/ssEUTzHjI5January 10, 2022
Not only did the 28-year-old hold off the world number one for two days straight, but if we go back to the first two holes of the tournament, Smith was actually one-over-par! Meaning he had played the remaining 70 holes in 35-under, a feat that realistically could only ever be done on a games console.
With the win, Smith now moves into the world’s top-10, with Rahm extending his margin at the top of the world rankings over Collin Morikawa, who, at 25-under, finished in a tie for fifth.
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