Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman win 2021 Zurich Classic

Jude Papillion, Sports Editor

Australian teammates Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman won the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Louisiana last Sunday. The pair won the tournament 20-under par in a playoff against the South African duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel after Oosthuizen’s first playoff shot landed in the water. Oosthuizen later missed an 11-foot putt for par on the par-5 18th hole.

The Zurich Classic featured a two-man team format, consisting of a field of 80 teams, with 160 total players. In addition, rather than playing under traditional stroke play rules, the Zurich Classic used an alternating-round four-ball format for the first and third rounds and a foursomes format for the second and final rounds of the tournament. In four-ball play, all players on each team played with their own ball for the entire round, with teams recording the best score on each hole. In foursomes play, players rotated tee shots, with one teammate hitting all of the tee shots on the odd-numbered holes and the other teammate hitting all of the tee shots on even-numbered holes. The players then took turns alternating shots until they finished the hole, with the total number of strokes taken by the team going on the scorecard. 

In a tournament featuring several top-ranked golfers including Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau and Viktor Hovland, Smith and Leishman entered the final round one stroke behind Oosthuizen and Schwartzel. The pair grabbed the lead on the front nine and then lost it again on the back nine. On the 16th hole, Smith’s drive bounced near the green and landed in the water; however, Leishman birdied the penalty drop — about 23 feet away from the flagstick — to tie Oosthuizen and Schwartzel going into the final two holes. Both groups finished round four tied, leading to the playoff in which Oosthuizen’s tee shot on the par-5 18th hole landed in the water, followed by him missing an 11-foot par putt. Smith and Leishman simply made par on the first playoff hole to win the tournament. The overall purse for the tournament was $7.4 million, and Smith and Leishman’s victory netted at a total of $2,138,600 or $1,069,300 each. 

Leishman’s victory on Sunday was his sixth win on tour, his first since winning the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and his best finish since tying for fifth in the 2021 Masters Tournament. 

This was Smith’s third career victory on the tour, and his second win in the Zurich Classic, after winning the tournament 27-under par in a playoff with teammate Jonas Blixt in 2017. Smith’s last victory was at the 2020 Sony Open in Hawaii. Smith finished this year’s Masters tied for tenth place.

Smith also broke his promise with his girlfriend to cut his infamous mullet if he were to win another PGA Tour event. After winning the tournament, however, Smith has decided to keep his sick flow. In his post-round interview after the playoff win, Smith said, “I would have to apologize to my girlfriend, it’s not going away. I mean, it’s, I feel like it’s part of me now.”