— Scott Rabalais (@RabalaisAdv) May 1, 2017
The wait was worth it for Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith.
It took an extra day and four extra holes but Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith emerged victorious in the 2017 Zurich Classic at the TPC of Louisiana course in Avondale Monday morning.
Smith’s third shot bounced to within two feet of the hole on the 18th green and calmly sank the winning birdie putt for the title on the par-5 hole to defeat the duo of Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown on the fourth playoff hole Monday morning.
The win is the third for Blixt in 133 career starts on tour and the first for Smith in the 53rd start for the Brisbane, Australia native.
The two teams had tied at 27-under-par 261 in regulation, forcing the sudden death playoff.
The 28-year-old Smith had finished sixth at the Valero Texas Open last week and previously finished 10th at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open this season. He finished tied for fourth in the U.S. Open in in 2015. Smith moves to 20th on tour in the FedEx Cup points with the win.
The 33-year-old Blixt last won at The Greenbrier in 2013.
A native of Nassjo, Smaland, Sweden, Blixt played at Florida State and had a pair of PGA Tour titles and a second-place finish at The Masters (2014), a third-place finish at The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (2016) and a fourth-place finish at the PGA Championship (2013). He had struggled in 2017 entering the Zurich Classic with his best finish being a tie for 20th at The Farmers Insurance Open.
“It’s a little different playing golf in these circumstances,” Blixt said. “He’s (Smith) been playing great all week. He’s going to be a superstar one day. I feel like I have the best partner. He’s going to be a superstar one day. I’m very proud of him. The sky is the limit for Cameron. I can’t wait to see what’s to come for him. We’re proud of him.”
Smith, who is the No. 1 putter on the PGA Tour inside 10 feet, calmly sank the winning putt after missing a pair of makeable putts in previous sudden death holes. Both teams made par on the 18th hole twice and made par on the ninth hole before Smith decided the issue on No. 18.
Kisner sank a tremendous chip shot on Sunday from 94 feet for eagle on No. 18 while Smith had a brilliant approach to within three feet and then birdied the 18th in a fantastic finish as daylight was quickly dissipating Sunday to force the playoff.
“I can’t even talk, I’m sorry,” Smith said initially to The Golf Channel. After composing himself, he managed a few words.
“I didn’t want to miss it for Jonas,” Smith said. “I didn’t want to play another hole. I haven’t even thought about what it means yet.”
With the victory, both Blixt and Smith get two-year exemptions and Smith qualified for the Tournament Players Championship in two weeks.
Kelly Kraft and Kevin Tway finished third at 23-under-par while the duo of Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer was fourth at 22-under-par.
The overall takeaway from the first team event on the PGA Tour since 1981 was that it was a smashing success. The course was in good shape. The weather held out until Sunday’s 6-hour, 22-minute delay. The player reaction was very positive.
Kudos to Steve Worthy and his crew for doing an excellent job. Suddenly, the bad dates and complaints about the TPC of Louisiana course are not to relevant. The team format provided the necessary shot in the arm, the shockwave jolt to the heart that the New Orleans tournament needed.