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Cameron Smith claims third Fortinet Australian PGA Championship title

Cameron Smith claims third Fortinet Australian PGA Championship title

Cameron Smith won the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship for a third time with a three-shot victory after a weather-affected final round at Royal Queensland Golf Club.

Cameron Smith-1444906261

The 150th Open Champion held an overnight three-shot lead but was caught early on the back nine, shortly after the second of two separate suspensions because of lightning which saw more than two hours of play lost.

Three birdies in a five-hole stretch from the 12th saw the World Number Three reassert his command as a closing three-under-par 68 saw him claim victory in the season-opening tournament, which is co-sanctioned with the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.

Australian Jason Scrivener and Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune finished in a share of second at 11 under after posting rounds of 67 and 65, respectively.

Another home favourite Min Woo Lee was two shots further back in fourth alongside England’s Challenge Tour Graduate John Parry, who along with Hisatsune made a closing 65 to match the best score of the week.

Smith, who won this event back-to-back in 2017 and 2018, is now a four-time winner on the DP World Tour having made his Major Championship breakthrough at St Andrews in July.

“I really didn’t think I had it in me at the start of the week," he said in his post-round interview.

“I was a bit scratchy and the game has got better and better as the week went on, other than the front nine today."

Reflecting on the weather-enforced delays in play, he added: “You are in the mojo a little and for it to be stopped not once but twice was a little frustrating but I just held on and played really solid those last eight holes.”

Smith picked up his first birdie of the day at the par-four second but fast starts from members of the chasing pack meant he was unable to extend his advantage.

The 29-year-old held a two-shot lead at the turn, before Scrivener cut his lead to one with a birdie at the par-three 11th shortly before the first suspension in play.

After a one hour and 45-minute break, players returned only for lightning in the area to result in a further pause in play before conditions improved.

On the second resumption, Smith made his first and only bogey of the day at the 11th to see him drop back into a share of the lead with Scrivener and Hisatsune, who birdied three of his opening four holes on the back nine.

But he bounced back immediately with a birdie at the 12th, following a good wedge over a tree after an errant tee shot, to move back to the top of the leaderboard before another followed at the 13th.

With Histasune setting the clubhouse target at 11 under, and Scrivener losing ground with a double bogey at the par-three 17th, Smith made his fourth birdie of the day at the 16th to lead by once again.

Pars at the final two holes saw Smith complete his victory in what was his first appearance on home soil in three years.

"I knew that I had to kind of step it up a little bit," Smith said.

"Obviously Scrivy (Jason Scrivener) is a great player and I knew he’d keep putting the pressure on me. It was a good last seven holes.

"I mean, lots of pressure and the golf course really wasn’t letting up even though it was a little bit softer."