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These guys are good

Cameron Smith notches one version of golf's 'perfect' round: 18 putts

August 06, 2021

Cameron Smith reacts after making birdie on the sixth green during the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

Sam Greenwood

Golf instructors Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott were able to put a name on golf’s version of baseball’s perfect game. They call it “Vision 54” and their star pupil, Annika Sorenstam, came as close to it as any woman ever has with the only 59 in LPGA Tour history.

No man or woman on any significant professional golf tour has birdied all 18 holes—in other words, scored a 54—in a single round. (Jim Furyk holds the PGA Tour record with a 58.) But maybe the next-coolest achievement is what Australian Cameron Smith pulled off on Friday in the second round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis.

The colorful Smith tied the tour record for fewest putts in a round when he needed only 18 over the 18 holes of TPC Southwind. And though 18 one-putts might been quite tidy, we’ll take the creative way Smith did it: He had four holes with zero putts to overcome the four greens on which he needed two. For the day, Smith shot eight-under-par 62 and climbed into a tie for second place at 11 under, two strokes behind leader Harris English, who followed his own 62 on Thursday with a second-round 65.

Smith became the ninth player in PGA Tour history to need just 18 rolls on the green. The last to do it before him was Blake Adams in the second round of the 2010 Verizon Heritage.

“Yeah, it's a pretty cool little title I guess to have next to your name,” Smith said. “I was actually hitting really nice golf shots as well that ended up just going off the green and made a few of them, and had a chip‑in there for par on 4, which kept the round going. Yeah, was seeing the putts really good today.”

Smith made six birdies and an eagle in the round. He holed out at bunker shot from 33 feet for eagle at the par-5 third and chipped in from 18 feet to make par at the par-4 fourth. Smith also drained putts from off the fringe at No. 8 (14 feet for par) and No. 16 (16 feet for birdie).

He had a chance to notch only 17 putts but missed a 22-footer for birdie at 18.

“The greens are so good around here, if you get the ball started online and you've hit a good putt, most of the time they're going in,” offered Smith, who said he had no idea what the putting record was.

“I thought for sure someone would have had 17 for some reason,” he said. “I don't know why that is, but I had to triple check with my adding up because I thought I was wrong for sure.”

That Smith should have a hot round with the flatstick is no surprise at all. He is coming off a T-10 in the Olympics and he’s one of the best putters on tour, ranking 12th this season in strokes gained/putting. He is, however, seeking his first individual win of the season after teaming up with countryman Marc Leishman to win this season’s Zurich Classic for his third overall tour victory.

To do so, Smith will have to overcome some bad 18-putt karma. Of the other eight guys who pulled it off, none went on to win the tournament in which they were playing.

Time for that streak to end, because what good is a no-hitter if you don’t get the W?