Johannesburg - South Africa’s Ernie Els congratulated Australian Cameron Smith for breaking his scoring record on the US PGA Tour, as the young Aussie claimed victory at the US PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii on Sunday.
Smith, 28, finished on 34-under courtesy of rounds of 65, 64, 64 and 65 on the par-73 layout. The four-round total beat the previous lowest on the PGA Tour of 31-under which was held by Els - also achieved at the same tournament back in 2003.
In contrast, Els that year won by a whopping eight strokes. It was also the Big Easy’s 11th PGA Tour victory in his career, which ended with 19 wins in total.
That win in 2003 was the second eight-shot triumph on the PGA Tour for Els. As a youngster at the age of 26, Els won the Buick Challenge in 1996 by eight shots on a total of 13-under for the week.
As large as the margin of those victories was, Els boasted two ‘bigger’ wins on the European Tour. Els won the Johnnie Walker Asian Classic in Australia, also in 2003, by a mammoth 10 shots with his score of 29-under. That victory still stands as the lowest score for four rounds on the European Tour.
Congratulations Cameron Smith on a great win and the other guys @PGATOUR for breaking the scoring record. It was about time.— Ernie Els (@TheBig_Easy) January 10, 2022
Els led the contest from the first round, and claimed his 13th European Tour title in emphatic fashion with rounds of 64, 65, 64 and 66 to earn a massive winning margin over Australian duo Stephen Leaney and Andre Stolz.
While Garrick Higgo and Erik van Rooyen both finished on impressive four-round totals of 16-under, it would not have been as pleasing as one would normally expect as the pair finished a whopping 18 strokes behind Smith.
In fact, Higgo and Van Rooyen had to settle for a share of 25th in an exclusive field of 38 where there was no halfway cut. Incidentally, last place went to American Jason Kokrak in a normally respectable score of seven-under for the week.
Starting 2022 with a win. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/ssEUTzHjI5— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 10, 2022
The tournament is the opening event of the new PGA Tour season, with only winners during the previous season invited to participate.