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Golf-Emotional Smith enjoys players winning with family after long COVID breakup

PGA: THE PLAYERS Championship - Postponed Finals
FILE PHOTO: March 14, 2022; Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA; Cameron Smith displays the Champions trophy after winning The Players Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

March 15, 2022

(Reuters) – Cameron Smith was overcome with emotion as he enjoyed the biggest win of his career at the Players Championship on Monday, sharing his triumph with Australian family after cutting more than two years from them due to the COVID-19 pandemic was .

The 28-year-old’s mother, Sharon, and his sister Mel were spectators on the green side at TPC Sawgrass as Smith picked up a one-shot win over India’s Anirban Lahiri after a weather-affected finals.

After Australia’s ban on non-essential travel was eased in late 2021, Smith’s family made the 9,000-mile trip from Brisbane to Florida in late February to reunite with the golfer.

Smith’s voice cracked when asked how he felt sharing Monday’s triumph with them.

“I haven’t seen them in two years so it’s really cool to have them here and my main priority was just hanging out with them,” he said.

“Golf have been second for these couple of weeks so it’s nice to see them and nice to get a win for them.

“It’s nice to hug mom.”

Smith showed great courage as he overcame three consecutive bogeys from the seventh hole that threatened to derail his final round.

He blew four consecutive birdies from the 10th and another on the island green of the 17th after attacking the hole with a bold tee shot that landed just yards from the lake.

He found water with his second shot on the 18th but recovered and landed his fourth three feet from the pin for a bogey that repelled a playoff and secured his fifth US Tour title.

He said his never-quitting mentality may stem from watching rugby league and his home state of Queensland win against New South Wales in Australia’s annual State of Origin series.

“Even when things got tough, they somehow managed to win,” he said.

“I think that’s kind of ingrained in all of us.”

Smith, who won the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January, will head into the Masters in three weeks time with form and plenty of confidence.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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