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Cameron Smith downs Brendan Steele in playoff to win dramatic Sony Open

January 13, 2020

The two-week Hawaii swing finished on Sunday with a half dozen players contending for the Sony Open title in rainy and windy conditions. Here’s how it all went down on Sunday at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Who won: Cameron Smith (two-under 68, 11 under overall; won with par on first playoff hole)

How it happened: Brendan Steele held the 54-hole lead at 12 under to begin the day — three shots clear of second place Cameron Smith — but Steele played the front in even par and made the turn leading Smith by two and Webb Simpson and Kevin Kisner by three. Steele pushed his lead back to three when he chipped in from the sand for a birdie on 11, but Smith birdied 12 and Steele bogeyed 13 to make it a one-shot lead. A wayward drive on 15 led to Smith’s second bogey of the day, and all of a sudden Steele led three others by two with three holes to play. But Steele again missed the green on a par-3, this time on 17, and he missed his six-footer for par and his lead was one with the par-5 18th to play. That’s when it got crazy.

The 18th hole: The 18th is a par 5, and play was getting congested late on Sunday. At one point there were three groups on it — one finishing on the green, another in the fairway and the final threesome on the tee. Steele and Smith had to wait 15 minutes to hit their tee shots, and Steele had to wait another 15 before hitting his second, which went way left, off the bleachers and on the 10th fairway. From there he got a drop from a temporary removable obstruction, chipped on and two-putted, but Smith found the green-side bunker in two, blasted it out and made birdie to force a playoff.

The playoff: Playing the par-4 10th, the first playoff hole didn’t have near the drama as the 72nd hole. Smith found the green in regulation as Steele hit his approach over the green. Steele chipped on and then missed his par putt, giving Smith two putts to win. The Aussie rolled his first one close and tapped in for the win.

Why it matters: It’s the second PGA Tour victory for the 26-year-old Smith, but first in individual play. He teamed up with Jonas Blixt to win the 2017 Zurich Classic.

Best shot: Leading by two at a soggy Waialae Country Club, Steele missed the green on the par-3 11th and had a semi-plugged lie from the bunker — and then he blasted it in and increased his lead to three.

Best round: Graeme McDowell (T4) and Lanto Griffin (T7) both shot six-under 64s in wet conditions to leap into the top 10.

Up next: The Tour heads to The American Express in La Quinta, Calif., which will be headlined by Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. Mickelson is the tournament host.