Cameron Smith’s Masters dream suffered a huge blow as his early surge went to waste with a crucial error that could cost him a green jacket.
Cameron Smith will have to wait another year for the chance to wear a green jacket after he imploded in the final round at Augusta.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler kept his cool across the final 18 holes to win one of golf’s most prestigious prizes, showing no sign of nerves to shoot a clinical one-under on Monday (AEST) and finish at 10-under overall — three shots clear of nearest rival Rory McIlroy.
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Starting the day three shots behind leader Scheffler, Smith was in red hot form as he nailed two birdies on the first two holes but sadly that’s where the good times ended.
He tied for third with Shane Lowry, finishing at five-under for the tournament after a disappointing final round of one-over.
Smith banked a cool $1.37 million for his efforts, but would have been hoping for a better result when he woke up in the morning. McIlroy (second) collected $2.17 million while Scheffler is $3.62 million richer.
It all came crumbling down for Smith on the notorious par-3 12th. Having birdied the 11th to reduce the gap with Scheffler to three strokes, he had a chance to put some real pressure on the American but butchered it by plonking his tee shot in the water.
It cost the Queenslander big-time, resulting in a triple-bogey six and all of a sudden he collapsed to four-under and found himself six shots behind Scheffler.
“Poor shot on 12 — there’s the tournament,” Smith said afterwards as he lamented making “too many mistakes”.
“Just a really bad swing, one of the worst swings of the week.
“I’ll grow from this and be stronger for it
“I feel really comfortable around here (Augusta) but it just hasn’t been my time yet.”
It got worse with a bogey on 14 before Smith recovered with birdies on 15 and 16, moving to one-over for the round and five-under for the tournament. It was enough to put him in outright third at the time, ahead of Collin Morikawa and Lowry, but he was still two shots behind McIlroy.
The Irishman played the best round we’ve seen from anyone all week to surge up the leaderboard on Monday and finish second. He was five-under through 10 holes and an eagle on the 13th saw him race to six-under.
McIlroy closed out his Masters with a birdie at 18 courtesy of a remarkable shot from the bunker as he carded 64 – the lowest score of the tournament – to finish at seven-under overall.
Smith’s early heroics on the first two holes were tempered when he bogeyed the third. At the same time, Scheffler made him pay with a ridiculous chip-in on the third — described by commentators as “unbelievable” and some punters on social media as the “shot of the tournament” — to move ahead by two strokes.
Smith’s struggles continued with a bogey on the fourth as Scheffler saved par to extend his advantage to four shots.
That’s how things stayed for the next couple of holes before the Australian star pulled things back with a birdie on the seventh, but Scheffler did the same and the four-shot gap remained.
Smith bogeyed 10 but kept the dream alive with a birdie on 11 before imploding on the 12th hole. A bogey two holes later confirmed the worst and rather than challenging for the lead, the 28-year-old was doing his best to finish inside the top three.
The winner of last month’s $5 million Players Championship kept fighting until the end, showing his class with birdies on 15 and 16.
It’s another top 10 Masters finish for Smith, who was runner-up at Augusta in 2020.
While this was happening, Scheffler’s composure never wavered. He birdied 14 and 15 and rocketed to 12-under, clear by five shots with three holes to play.
The emotion finally looked to rattle him on the 18th green as he four-putted and double-bogeyed. But by this stage it didn’t matter and Scheffler sent the Augusta crowd into raptures after draining his final putt.
Meanwhile, Smith’s fellow Australian Min Woo Lee equalled a Masters record for the lowest score on the front nine by shooting 30, featuring four birdies and an eagle. But he fell away on the back nine and carded two-under for the round.
Masters top 10
1st. Scottie Scheffler: 10-under
2nd. Rory McIlroy:7-under
T3. Shane Lowry: 5-under
T3: Cameron Smith: 5-under
5th. Collin Morikawa: 4-under
T6: Will Zalatoris: 3-under
T6. Corey Conners: 3-under
T8. Justin Thomas: 1-under
T8. Sungjae Im: 1-under
T10. Cameron Champ: Even
T10. Charl Schwartzel: Even
Woods’ incredible return comes to an end
Tiger Woods’s remarkable return to the Masters concluded with a six-over par final-round 78 to cap the 15-time major champion’s first tournament since he suffered career-threatening leg injuries in a California car crash.
Woods, clad in his traditional final-round red, again drew throngs of spectators. While there would be no record-equalling sixth green jacket for Woods, the 46-year-old superstar departed knowing that 14 months after he feared he might lose his right leg, he could withstand the rigours of tournament golf.
Woods’s 13-over par total of 301 outstripped his prior highest-72 hole total of five-over 293 — which he shot as an amateur in 1995 and in 2012. He was tied for 47th when he walked off the course — shortly after Scottie Scheffler, the leader at nine-under, teed off.
That seemed immaterial after Woods, who has already come back from multiple knee injuries and spinal fusion surgery, said as recently as February he didn’t know when he would be able to walk a full 18 holes on multiple days.
Woods, who has slumped to 973rd in world rankings, is projected to rise by a few hundred places and could be back for more major action this year.
He has lifted Grand Slam trophies at two of this year’s major venues, Southern Hills in Oklahoma, which hosts the PGA Championship next month, and St Andrews, site of July’s British Open.