Smith’s fighting qualities made in maroon
For two tricky hours, Cameron Smith lost his way in strap grass and branches, talked to his errant ball and missed putts, before an astonishing rally to win back-to-back Australian PGA titles.
Sunday's scrap from behind for victory over a faltering Marc Leishman at Royal Pines was a far greater triumph of character than a Sunday stroll to a six-shot win without any turbulence.
Smith, 25, is the real deal as a player who Aussie golf fans can cheer for the next 15 years because what he found digging deep to retain the Joe Kirkwood Cup will rise again on the world stage.
"Twin-Cam" it is for the fast car-loving knockabout who will break into the world's top 30 for the first time after a seesawing shootout over four magnetic hours in the leading group.
Smith (70-65-67-70) became the first golfer since Robert Allenby (2000-01) and Greg Norman (1984-85) in the modern era to win successive PGAs with his two-shot success on the Gold Coast.
"You definitely learn a lot about yourself on the course," a delighted Smith said of digging deep.
"I didn't really have the greatest start but having my friends, family and caddy (Sam Pinfold) always egging me on kept me going."
He dedicated the win to close mate Jason Young, who is undergoing chemotherapy to fight a brain tumour.
Smith said he was excited about next year: "I want to tick off that individual win on the PGA Tour that I missed this year and getting into that top 25 (in the world) is another goal."
The Smith v Leishman duel had everything and, in Queensland, it is really something when a Victorian is cheered with "Go Leish" calls nearly as often as a home state golfer wearing Sunday maroon.
How could you dislike either when Smith is making a rushed trip home to Florida to oversee the installation of a new barbecue before flying back to Brisbane for Christmas.
Smith's early stumbles with two bogeys meant his three-shot overnight lead had evaporated to the point that Leishman had hit the front after four holes.
It was a dramatic twist no one had anticipated because Smith's tugged opening tee shot was one of his worst of the week into tall strap grass and cost him a bogey.
When Leishman chipped in for birdie on the fourth and sunk a short putt for another on the fifth all the momentum was with him and his two-stroke lead.
Smith didn't claw back to level until the 14th when Leishman (68-68-69-69) cursed a putt that took a horseshoe out of the cup for bogey.
Smith hit the front in unconventional style on the par five 15 when his drive hit a grate in the left rough and he took a free drop on the 16th tee to play his third when an advertising hoarding was obstructing his swing.
It was pure match-play. Smith saw Leishman's ball on the green in birdie range and focussed on getting his inside. Smith made his for birdie. Leishman missed to end a sour hole that started with an iPhone camera clicking in his backswing on a wild-right drive.
Leishman was hurting because he'll have to wait another year to try to win his first big Australian tournament.
"It was a good fight out there...I just got outplayed, had the momentum and lost it," Leishman said of his World Cup teammate.
"I'm happy for Cam. He did what he needed to do making birdies coming in (three on the back nine) and I didn't (one).
"I say to my wife that life goes on after a bad round or finish and she should give me 10 minutes. This one is a big disappointment...so give me 20."
England's Ross McGowan closed with a course record nine-under 63 for third.
16-under: Cameron Smith (70-65-67-70)
14-under: Marc Leishman (68-68-69-69)
11-under: Ross McGowan (71-73-70-63), Matt Millar (72-70-67-68)
7-under: Jae-Woong Eom (67-74-70-70)
6-under: Jason Scrivener (68-73-74-67), Nick Flanagan (69-73-69-71), Ben Eccles (70-71-69-72)