Imagine shooting less than 32, or better, over four rounds and losing a PGA Tour event. This is what happened to several players at this year’s Tournament of Champions as part of a historic start to 2022 of the PGA Tour. Cameron Smith came out on top at 34 under the week, beating Jon Rahm (33 under) and Matt Jones (32 under) in Kapalua on Sunday for his fourth PGA Tour title.
All three, at one point on Sunday, held the 72-hole PGA Tour scoring record at par.
Jones finished first with a 61 under 12 after shooting 62 on Saturday in mild, windless conditions. Her 123 under 23 over the weekend was best score out of 36 holes on consecutive rounds in PGA Tour history, and his 32 Under the week was, very briefly, the best 72 hole paring ever. Still, it wasn’t enough to take the win or even to finish second.
Rahm then finished with a score of 66 under 7 to finish 33 under the week, and he briefly held the 72-hole PGA Tour scoring record at par after performing an eagle run on the 72nd hole that would have sent the event to the playoffs. It was the end of a weekend in which he made 18 birdies and an eagle in his run in a first win in 2022.
Smith then finished his Under-65s with a birdie – his 34th birdie or better this week! – to get to 34 under and lock that 72-hole scoring record and victory. If that sounds like a whirlwind finish in Maui, it’s because it was with records breaking multiple times, but Smith held on for the end-to-end victory.
“It was intense,” Smith told Golf Channel. “Jon and I played well all day… an unreal part and something I’ll never forget for sure. I was just trying to hit one shot at a time. I know that sounds cliché. Missed by a. In that sense, disappointing, but happy to come away with the win. “
The points record is certainly impressive, but given the mild conditions all week, the little wind that blew and the ease of scoring normally on this course, it is not the more impressive part of Smith’s victory. The most impressive part of Smith’s victory is who he survived.
Rahm has been a problem for eight months on the PGA Tour. Seven top 10s in his last nine starts (including this one), and one of those two non-top 10 finishes came at the Memorial Tournament where he was leading by six after three rounds and had to retire due of a positive COVID-19 test.
Smith paired him for the last 36, and although Rahm matched him on Saturday night, Smith never completely gave up the lead. Thirty-six holes with the world No. 1 putting 19 under you and refusing to go, and Smith never called it for a single hole all weekend. Records are one thing, but there aren’t many golfers in the world who could have done that, even on a course like this.
Smith has now pulled off Hawaii’s brace with victories in both the Sony Open and the Tournament of Champions. He joins a great company of Zach Johnson, Vijay Singh, Justin Thomas, Jim Furyk and Ernie Els to accomplish this feat and is preparing for what should be the best year of his career.
The 2022 Tournament of Champions will be remembered for the three guys who broke the all-time scoring record, and it should be. But don’t let that obscure how it should change the way you think of Smith. From a nice player who occasionally wins to a legitimate threat to stand up to the best players in the world in one of the best fields of the year. It’s kind of a graduation ceremony for him, and it will be exciting to see how he applies that confidence throughout the season. Rating: A +
Here is the rest of our 2022 Tournament of Champions notes.
Jon Rahm (2nd): Wins have to fall at some point, right? Rahm has averaged around 3.0 strokes won per round for eight straight months, and he only has one trophy – albeit a very handsome one at the US Open – to show for it. I’m thrilled for the rest of his year because there is clearly no drop ahead. He was, understandably, a little melancholy in the wake, but I rightfully think he could win three or four times throughout the year. Rating: A +
“It’s a weird feeling,” Rahm told Golf Channel. “I have every reason to smile right now except one. I’m having a bittersweet moment right now.”
Matt Jones (3rd): Imagine setting the PGA Tour scoring record and losing to two different guys!
“If you had told me I would have shot 32 cents I would have been more than happy to sit in the clubhouse and let everyone play and see what happens,” Jones said. after its historic 123 under 23 at the weekend.
Unfortunately for Jones, he would have lost anyway. Still, finishing third in solo is a big deal in a tournament like this for someone like Jones who will be looking to advance to the Tour Championship in East Lake later this year. Note: A
Rick Gehman, Kyle Porter, Greg DuCharme and Mark Immelman react to Cameron Smith’s victory at the Sentry 2022 Tournament of Champions. Follow and listen to The First Cut on Apple podcasts and Spotify.
Collin Morikawa (T5): The two-time major winner actually finished second in the field driving this week by a pretty wide margin, but a sluggish middle of his week – he lost total hits in his two combined intermediate laps – meant his 62 on Sunday were fine. short of Rahm and Smith (and Jones!). Still, Morikawa said the final was a lifeline for him as he begins a year of encore for the incredible start of his career. Why was this buoy necessary? Well, he said he took a long time during the holidays and needed something to jumpstart it in early 2022. Category B
“I mean the scores here this week, obviously it was a bit too late, but I needed it, I needed it just because it was kind of a boost for the rest of the year. . Until this week, I wasn’t quite sure exactly how the game was going to play out. ”
Justin Thomas (T5): I said after his 74 in the first round on Thursday that JT had no chance of winning the tournament but could still finish in the top 10. He tried to prove me a little wrong this weekend by setting the record for the tournament. 61 course on Saturday to soar in the standings. But that 74 in the first round left him too far to really struggle on the last 18 holes (he finished nine behind Smith). It was nice to see him catch on fire over the past three days, however, and the floor on him remains extraordinarily high week after week. Category B