Yes, there was Jordan Spieth’s 3-wood approach into the 72nd hole, and yes, there was Dustin Johnson’s 3-putt from 12 feet to lose the tournament that provided the true defining moments for the 115th U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. But it can be argued that no shot during the course of the tournament was more meaningful to a player’s career than 21-year-old Cameron Smith’s into the 18th green on Sunday.
Sitting at even par for his round, and 1-under for the tournament, Smith pulled out his 3-wood from 290 yards; what happened next was incredible.
His ball landed on the front of the firm, dried out green, and rode the roller coaster-like slopes all the way to within a few inches of the hole. His tap-in eagle would propel him to 2-under-par for his round, and 3-under for the tournament, good enough to solidify a T-4 finish in his first career start in a major.
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This didn’t make waves in the world of golf like Spieth’s second straight major championship did, but it could open the door for something like that in the future for Smith.
His top-five finish earned him enough FedEx Cup points to secure a special temporary membership on the PGA Tour for the remainder of the season, meaning that he is now allowed to accept an unlimited number of tournament invitations through October.
Furthermore, his top 10 finish at Chambers Bay earned Smith exemptions into next year’s U.S. Open at Oakmont, and another into the 2016 Masters (by way of his T-4).
"I can’t put it into words at the moment, to be honest" Smith told the media following his final round, "It still hasn’t really sunk in … I just want to sort of sit in the hotel room and let it all absorb."