News People Aussie golfer Cameron Smith closing on $15m payday

Aussie golfer Cameron Smith closing on $15m payday

Australia's Cameron Smith missed joining golf's most exclusive club by a single stroke.Photo: Getty
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Australian golfer Cameron Smith has rocketed into the lead at the Northern Trust Open with another record-setting display on the US PGA Tour.

Smith shattered the course record with an extraordinary 11-under-par 60 at Liberty National to surge into contention for a mega pay day at the $US60 million ($A84m) FedExCup playoffs.

In an incredible bogey-free round of 11 birdies, Smith missed a 12-foot putt on the 18th hole to fall centimetres short of shooting only the 12th magical round of 59 in PGA Tour history – Jim Furyk has the only 58.

But Smith did enough in New Jersey to snare a share of the third-round clubhouse lead at 16 under with Spanish world No.1 John Rahm and power into second spot on the projected FedExCup standings.

The winner of the obscenely rich playoffs will pocket a $US15m ($A21m) bonus.

Smith’s dazzling performance came just two weeks after he tied the PGA tour record for fewest putts in a round with just 18 during a second-round 62 at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

There, too, he missed a birdie attempt, from 22 feet, on the 18th that would have broken the record.

Amazingly, the 28-year-old’s career-best round on Saturday came after he had stormed off the course trailing the leader by seven shots the previous day.

‘That’s just golf’

“I guess that’s just golf, to be honest. It’s such a weird game,” Smith said.

“I left frustrated yesterday. I felt like I hit my driver kind of everywhere and I scrambled really well and got the best out of my game but (I was) mad.

“I got here this morning, the body felt a little bit different and the ball striking was definitely a lot better.”

Smith shrugged off his last-hole missed putt that would have thrust him into golfing’s exclusive “59 club”.

“I just kind of went through what I’d done the rest of the day and that was just a misread. That’s on me,” he said, after his putt dribbled wide.

“I thought it was going to come a little bit off the bunker and it didn’t. It is what it is.”

Rahm, the half-way leader, recorded a four-under 68 to join Smith, with in-form South African Eric van Rooyen one shot back after equalling the one-day-old old course record of 62.

Americans Justin Thomas (67) and Tony Finau (68) are at 14 under, with Ireland’s 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry (62), Norway’s Victor Hovland (65) and American Tom Hoge (67) one stroke further behind in a share of sixth.

Smith’s countrymen Cam Davis (68, six under) and Marc Leishman (69, five under)  are well back but both firmly entrenched in the top 70 for a spot in next week’s second play-off event – The BMW Championship.

The final round at Liberty National will be delayed at least a day because of forecast weather associated with expected Hurricane Henri – with the PGA Tour determining there was enough rain and dangerous wind to come that it was best to wait until Monday to schedule play.