Smith holes out
Cameron Smith splashes out the bunker for a spectacular eagle on the second hole at Augusta. Image by AP PHOTO
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Smith’s fear after falling short again at the Masters

Darren Walton April 15, 2024

Cameron Smith fears the clock is ticking after having to settle for a fifth frustrating top-10 Masters finish at Augusta National.

Smith refused to blame an untimely bout of food poisoning after failing to stay with the pacesetters down the stretch on a blazing hot final day.

He briefly threatened a final-round charge when he produced a spectacular hole-out eagle on the par-5 second but the green jacket once again eluded the Australian golf superstar.

For the second day running, he couldn’t buy a putt as world No.1 Scottie Scheffler stormed to a second Masters victory in three years.

Smith failed to jag even one birdie, a run of 13 pars after recording his lone bogey on the fifth never enough to challenge the leaders.

He tied for sixth at two under with fellow LIV Golf star Bryson DeChambeau after signing for a Sunday 71.

“I made a few up and downs today to keep the momentum but just couldn’t get anything going,” Smith said.

Cameron Smith at the Masters.
 Cameron Smith finished in the top 10 at the Masters for the fifth time. Image by EPA PHOTO 

The latest top-10 result follows his tie for fifth in 2018, a runner-up showing in 2020 – when he became the first player to register four rounds in the 60s – a joint 10th in 2021 and equal third two years ago.

But it was little consolation to the 2022 British Open champion and one-time world No.2.

“I mean, I’m 30 years old now,” Smith said.

“I know that sounds crazy but there’s going to be a point in my career where things start to go the other way. 

“I’d like to think I am still on the up and can still compete with the best golfers in the world.

“But time ticks on and there’s only one of these a year – so you’ve got to make the most of it.”

Smith only managed 18 practice holes pre-tournament after being consigned to bed for two days with a sapping stomach ailment.

But he offered no excuses.

“I’m not too bad, surprisingly,” he said. 

“The adrenalin kept me going out on the golf course.

“The start of the week was definitely a struggle and I didn’t prep the way that I wanted to, but I hit the ball really good, did everything good.

“It just didn’t quite all go to plan.”

The LIV Golf heavyweight bristled at three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo’s suggestion that playing in the monster-money Saudi-backed rebel league had robbed the defectors of their competitive edge.

“No, no, that’s BS,” he said of Faldo’s claim that tackling the 54-hole LIV league was little more than playing “resort courses in shorts”.

Canm Davis.
 Cam Davis earned an invitation back to Augusta National next with a Masters tie for 12th. Image by EPA PHOTO 

Unsung countryman Cam Davis shared 12th spot at one over following a final-round 75.

He would have joined Smith in the top 10 if not for a rueful four-putt on the 17th.

But the result at least secured Davis an invitation back to Augusta next year.

Fellow Australians Min Woo Lee and Jason Day produced bright finishes to leave Augusta with their spirits intact ahead of next month’s PGA Championship, the second major of the year.

After starting his Masters campaign with a broken finger and battling the flu, Lee closed with a three-under 69 to climb to four over and a share of 22nd with six others including Australia’s 2013 champion Adam Scott (72).

Min Woo Lee
 Min Woo Lee shot a final-round 69 despite having to play with a broken finger. Image by AP PHOTO 

“Early on I didn’t have enough trust in the finger but after making plenty of bogeys to start off, I decided to give it a good go,” Lee told AAP.

“I was already on the back foot but since then I shot level par. Pretty decent. It feels good.”

Day also posted a final-round 69 to finish tied for 30th at five over.

“The short game’s nice. Putting’s nice,” Day said.

“I just made too many cheap errors out there, just soft bogeys. 

“Clean that up, tighten the swing up a little bit and the game is shaping up for a good summer.”