Smith’s Masters hopes doused after ‘really bad swing’

Golf — The Masters — Augusta National Golf Club — Augusta, Georgia, U.S. — April 10, 2022 Australia’s Cameron Smith tees off on the 15th during the final round REUTERS/Mike Segar

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AUGUSTA, Ga., April 10 (Reuters) — Just as Cameron Smith looked ready to mount a back-nine charge at the Masters, the Australian made his worst swing of the week and watched his hopes of victory disappear in the same watery grave that has submerged the Green Jacket dreams of many.

Augusta National’s par-three, Golden Bell 12th hole is one of the most pivotal in Masters history, having inflicted plenty of heartbreak given fickle winds, a narrow green — and the haunting presence of Rae’s Creek.

Moments after carding only the second birdie of the day at 11 to get within three shots of the lead, Smith sent his tee shot at Golden Bell into the creek, leading to a triple-bogey that left him six shots back of playing partner and eventual champion Scottie Scheffler.

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«Just a really bad swing. Probably one of the worst swings of the week and just at the worst time of the week,» Smith said of his nine-iron off the 12th tee. «Yeah, just unfortunate, but I’ll grow from this and be stronger for it.»

Smith went on to mix a bogey with two birdies the rest of the way, closing with a one-over-par 73 that left him five shots back of Scheffler and in a share of third place.

The scene at the 12th was all the more surprising given world number six Smith arrived at Augusta in top form after having secured the biggest win of his career at last month’s Players Championship.

The 28-year-old Brisbane-born Smith, looking to join Adam Scott (2013) as an Australian winner of the Masters, began the final round three shots behind Scheffler and quickly cut the deficit to one with a birdie-birdie start.

But Scheffler restored his three-shot lead when he chipped in for birdie from 29 yards at the par-four third where Smith made the first of two consecutive bogeys, the next coming at the par-three fourth where his tee shot landed in a bunker.

While Smith walked away wondering what might have been had he avoided trouble at the 12th hole, he remained confident that his dream of becoming a Masters champion would become a reality one day.

«I feel like I’ve played some of my best golf around here. It just hasn’t quite been my time yet,» said Smith, who has made the cut in all six of his Masters appearances, including three top 10s and a runner-up finish in 2020.

«A couple of lucky breaks here and there, and I’ll be putting the Green Jacket on, I’m sure one day.

«I feel really comfortable around this place. I feel like it’s a place that really suits my game. Yeah, I look forward to coming back here every year and playing good golf.»

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Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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