AVONDALE, La. — Cameron Smith's aggressiveness on TPC Louisiana's water-lined 16th hole appeared to doom his team's chances of winning the Zurich Classic of New Orleans when his 294-yard drive bounced off an embankment near the green and into the water.
Smith's teammate, fellow Australian Marc Leishman, then flipped the script with a deft chip.
Leishman made a birdie after a penalty drop in the rough, about 23 feet from the pin, pulling him and Smith into a tie with the South African duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel that wasn't broken until the Aussies won the first playoff hole Sunday.
"(Smith) hit a really good shot. It was the right club and the right shot, just drifted a little in the wind," Leishman said. "I was just concentrating on my game, and I was lucky enough to be on the upslope.
"It wasn't the hardest chip in the world, but under the conditions, well, I won't say it was a must make, but it was certainly very helpful that it went in."
He and Smith ended it with a par on their second trip up the par-5 18th after Oosthuizen pushed his tee shot into the water and narrowly missed an 11-foot putt for par.
"Disappointed, but I felt we played well, gave ourselves loads of opportunities," said Oosthuizen, who was seeking his first win since the 2010 British Open. "... It could have gone any way, the way we played in regulation."
The climactic finish capped a compelling duel between two teams that teed off together in the final grouping and took turns holding leads that never grew to more than two strokes.
The Australians forced the playoff by shooting a 2-under-par 70 in alternate-shot play at the PGA Tour's lone regular-season team event for a four-round 20-under 268. Oosthuizen and Schwartzel began the round with a one-stroke lead, but they shot a 71 with three pars and two bogeys.
"It was really tough," said Smith, whose previous victory came at the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2020. "That back nine was brutal, but we hung in there."
It's Smith's third career victory and second at the Zurich, which he won with Jonas Blixt in 2017, the first year New Orleans' PGA Tour stop switched from a traditional individual format to an event featuring 80 two-man teams. That first victory also came in a playoff.
This was Smith's best result since tying for second at the pandemic-delayed 2020 Masters last November. It's also was his sixth top-10 result since the current tour season started. It was Leishman's sixth career victory, his best result since tying for fifth at the Masters this month and his first win since the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open.
Peter Uihlein and Richy Werenski closed with a 67 to shoot up the leaderboard from 18th to third, finishing one stroke out of the playoff. Three teams tied for fourth at 18 under: Chattanooga native Keith Mitchell and Brandt Snedeker (69), Sam Burns and Billy Horschel (69), and Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele (70).
Mitchell, the former Baylor School and University of Georgia standout, was in his hometown at the start of last week because he had not originally planned to play the Zurich until Snedeker called. Mitchell and fellow Baylor alum Stephan Jaeger had played the 2018 Zurich but badly missed the cut after shooting a second-round 78 and finishing tied for 70th out of 80 teams.
"Stephan and I played horrible, and I told myself that I would never play Zurich again," Mitchell said. "I talked trash about it for two years straight, but then Brandt was like, 'Hey, do you want to play?' People have said that if you took Brandt's game and my game and combined them, we would be a top-10 player in the world.
"His strength is his course management and his putting and his overall execution, and mine is hitting the ball high and far and hitting shots that might be a little more difficult."
Jaeger, currently on the Korn Ferry Tour, closed with a 4-under 67 at Texas Rangers Golf Course in Arlilngton on Sunday, finishing tied for 37th at 13 under in the Vertiex Bank Championship.
LAS PALMAS, Spain — Making good use of advice from countryman Gary Player, South African golfer Garrick Higgo won the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open by three shots for his second European Tour victory.
The 21-year-old shot a 7-under 63 for the second consecutive day to finish at 25-under 255 and hold off a charge by Germany's Maximilian Kieffer, who finished second after an 8-under 62 that included seven birdies and an eagle.
This time, Higgo had a special reason to listen to Player, the 85-year-old with nine major championships and a career Grand Slam.
"I spoke to Gary last night, actually, and he just said there is no such thing as a lead and you should play like you're two behind," Higgo said. "That was nice from him. He's said it to me so many times, but I've never really had a lead, so I've never had to worry about that."
The overnight leader by two shots, Higgo had five birdies and an eagle in his final round at Meloneras Golf Course. His first European Tour win came last season at the Portugal Open; the left-hander's second came in his 24th start.