Five days after his record-breaking 34-under-par triumph on Maui, Cameron Smith has missed the cut in the PGA Tour’s second Hawaiian tournament, the Sony Open.
It was always going to be a tall order to back up after racking up 31 birdies and three eagles and out-duelling world No.1 Jon Rahm over the final two rounds of the Tournament of Champions.
And so it proved as Smith bowed out after a Sony Open second round on Honolulu’s Waialae course that included four bogeys and a double bogey in a one-over 71, leaving him three shots outside the cut mark of five under.
Fellow Aussie Matt Jones, who shot the lights last weekend to finish third behind Smith and Rahm, fared no better as he missed the cut by the same margin after a 68.
This time it was American Russell Henley putting his name in lights as he followed an opening 62 with a 63 to be 15 under and three shots clear of China’s Haotong Li (65).
Only third-placed Matt Kuchar (65, 11 under) and Michael Thompson (67 (10 under) were also within five shots of the front runner.
Cam Davis shot a second consecutive 66 to be the leading Australian, in a tie for 16th at eight under, while Marc Leishman (68) and Brett Drewitt (67) scraped through to the weekend rounds on the cut line.
Nine years after beginning his PGA Tour rookie season by winning the Sony Open, Henley surged clear as he played his final six holes in six under on Friday.
Henley holed a greenside bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 18th hole, only to miss the green long and into a back bunker for bogey on the tough first hole. And then he couldn’t miss. He birdied both par 3s on the front nine from inside 10 feet, made a pair of 12-foot birdie putts and finished by holing a 30-foot eagle putt.
“Nice to finish like that,” Henley said. “I don’t remember the last time I had two eagles in the same round, but it’s definitely exciting.”
Did Henley’s first-up victory in 2013 make him think it was an easy game?
“Didn’t take me very long to realise it’s really hard,” said Henley, who has three career victories as he starts his 10th year on tour. “Had a lot of up-and-downs my first year, second year, I mean, every year. After this first one, I remember thinking it might be easier than I thought.”
He laughed before adding, “But it’s not.”