Whale watching helps Cameron Smith turn restless sleeps into record-breaking win

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  • Cameron Smith
    Cameron Smith
    Professional golfer

One would think that shooting 65 or better in each of his four rounds would have afforded Cameron Smith some stress-free nights sleeping on a lead. However, that was not the case at this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, where carding 65 wasn’t much better than the field average each day.

“Restless sleeps,” Smith said. “I feel like I spent a lot of time looking at the ceiling in bed this week.”

Luckily for the 28-year-old Aussie, he should get some satisfying shuteye Sunday night after he closed out a record-breaking, wire-to-wire victory at Kapalua, where he blitzed the Plantation Course to the tune of 34 under. Smith’s 72-hole performance bested Ernie Els’ previous Tour record, set at the 2003 Tournament of Champions, by three strokes, yet it was just one shot better than Sunday’s runner-up.

Yes, Jon Rahm shot 33 under – and made a Tour record-tying 32 birdies – and didn’t win.

“Obviously, playing with Jon over the weekend was tough," Smith said. "He kept firing at pins and kept making birdies, and I felt like I had to stay on top of him, and it was nice to do that. ... I mean, he's the best golfer in the world and there's many reasons why he is. He flushes it and he, it seems like he drains every putt he looks at. So, yeah, it was nice to kind of overcome that and kind of give some punches back, I guess, to him and give him something to think about."

Cameron Smith 'punches back,' takes down world No. 1 at Kapalua

Full-field scores from the Sentry Tournament of Champions

So, how did he keep his composure with a self-admitted “scratchy” record stringing together four “really good” rounds while also holding off the world No. 1? Was he as calm as he looked strolling Kapalua’s sprawling fairways?

“No, definitely not,” Smith answered. “My caddie and I do such a great job, I think, in between shots to get our minds off golf, so that's something that we really did over the weekend. We were just talking about anything, to be honest.

“We were watching whales at one point.”

Said the fisherman. Smith garnered headlines last season when he said he’d maybe buy fishing equipment if he’d won the $15 million FedExCup but otherwise was “pretty set.” With his nearly $1.5 million winner’s check on Sunday, Smith again was mum on potential purchases.

“I don't know, I'll have to sleep on that one, to be honest,” Smith said. “I mean, I'm quite content with where I'm at. I know mom's car's probably getting four or five years old, so maybe a new car for mom.”