Local resident Cameron Smith finished in front but it was debutant Cameron Percy who had the Aussie highlight to remember in the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.
American Justin Thomas added to his flourishing resume with a one-stroke victory over Lee Westwood with Smith’s regular visits to TPC Sawgrass leading to a tie for 17th on the back of a superb round of 7-under 65 on Saturday.
But as Smith dropped six spots on Sunday with a final round of 72 it was Victorian Percy who made the biggest move thanks in no small part to the best shot of any player at the famed island green at the par-3 17th.
Making his first appearance at THE PLAYERS at 46 years of age, Percy made birdie from inside six feet and 55 feet in the first two rounds respectively and then fired one in tight to the far-right pin in the final round, leaving himself just three feet, 10 inches for his third birdie of the week at one of golf’s most intimidating tee shots.
It was Percy’s seventh birdie of the day in a round of 4-under 68 that was bettered by only nine players in the final round, rising 26 places on the leaderboard to finish tied for 29th, three shots back of Smith.
Incredibly, it meant that Aussies had the honour of finishing closest to the hole at 17 each of the four days of the tournament after Adam Scott claimed nearest-the-pin in each of the first three rounds with shots to 19 inches, 20 inches and two feet, six inches.
Unfortunately for Scott his attempt on Sunday came up short in the water as his closing 1-under 71 resulted in a tie for 48th.
After a short hiatus the European Tour made its return in Qatar where Queensland’s Maverick Antcliff commenced his season in positive fashion with a tie for 19th at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Education City Golf Club in Doha.
Starting the final round in a tie for 24th, Antcliff was 2-over through 15 holes and losing ground to the field but bounced back from a double-bogey at 17 on Saturday to make birdie on Sunday and then closed out his week with a birdie at the final hole for an even-par 72.
Wade Ormsby and Scott Hend were the only other players in the field in Qatar but both missed the cut.
THE PLAYERS Championship
TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Won by Justin Thomas (USA) at -14 by one stroke
T17 Cameron Smith, 71-73-65-72—281
T29 Cameron Percy, 73-70-73-68—284
T35 Jason Day, 70-71-71-73—285
T48 Adam Scott, 72-71-73-71—287
T55 Matt Jones, 73-71-70-74—288
MC Marc Leishman, 71-74—145
MC Danny Lee, 72-74—146
MC Cameron Davis, 76-74—150
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
Education City GC, Doha, Qatar
Won by Antoine Rozner (FRA) at -8 by one stroke
T19 Maverick Antcliff, 69-72-72-71—284
MC Wade Ormsby, 69-76—145
MC Scott Hend, 74-72—146