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Australia’s mane men grow on each other in New Orleans

Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman win 2021 Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Australians Cameron Smith (left) and Marc Leishman team to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman win Zurich Classic, and Smith declares that his mullet is a lucky charm and here to stay

Cameron Smith offered an apology to his girlfriend Sunday after winning the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans with fellow Aussie Marc Leishman as his partner.

The mullet stays.

Smith, who has generated a cult following with his long, brown mane flowing out the back of his cap, joined Leishman in outlasting South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel on the first playoff hole at TPC Louisiana in Avondale to win the PGA Tour’s only official team event. Americans Richy Werenski and Peter Uihlein finished third, one stroke back (For scores, click here.)

With the victory, Smith’s third and Leishman’s sixth on Tour, Smith had some news for his girlfriend, former Symetra Tour player Jordan Ontiveros, about the mullet.

“I would have to apologize to my girlfriend,” Smith said. “It's not going away. I mean, I feel like it's part of me now.”

Said Leishman: “He's got a cult following now. You should hear the fans out there. They're all over it. It's awesome.”

Of course, it takes more than a cultish coiffure to win on the PGA Tour. Smith and Leishman shot 20-under 268 in the format: two rounds of four-balls (better ball) and two rounds of foursomes (alternate shot). After a 2-under 70 in foursomes on Sunday, they coasted to victory with par on the playoff hole, the par-5 18th, when Oosthuizen hit his team's drive into the water guarding the right side.

Smith and Leishman earned $1,069,300 apiece from the $7.4 million purse.

“We come in here quietly confident, I think, and we just knew we had to have a good time,” Smith said. “We've played well before together in the same type of format. We just went out there and had fun and got it done in the end.”

Leishman deflected much of the credit to his partner, and not just for his hairstyle.

“Cam played unbelievably well,” Leishman said. “I was saying to him when we finished, if that had been an individual tournament, I think he would have won by a fair few shots. But I managed to not hold him back too much.”

Certainly not on the 16th hole, he didn’t.

After Smith drove their tee shot left into water near the green at the drivable par 4, Leishman took a penalty drop in the rough and proceeded to hole out from 24½ feet for an improbable birdie.

“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,” Leishman said. “I actually forgot to get my ball out of the hole, I was so excited.”

The bonus came in handy, bridging bogeys at the 15th and 17th holes and providing the spark to stay even with their South African playing competitors, who also bogeyed the par-3 17th.

“That's the great thing about the format, having alternate shot on Sunday,” Leishman said. “There's so much volatility. No lead is really safe, as we showed. I think we only got to 2 up, but it can turn really quickly, and especially when the course is firm like it was. You don't even have to hit a bad shot to get put into a bad position.

“You had to really think your way around the golf course. I think we're both reasonably good at that normally. And, yeah, it was just a fun week.”

Smith teamed with Sweden’s Jonas Blixt to win the New Orleans event in 2017, the first year that it switched from a traditional stroke-play format. Now, he and Leishman have some history of their own on Anzac Day, the equivalent of the U.S. Memorial Day in Australia and New Zealand.

“That's pretty special,” Smith said. “I was actually speaking to my old man last night, and he said it's a really good omen for us guys being up the top of the leaderboard on Anzac Day. I know my family went out to a dawn service yesterday morning and paid their respects, so maybe we have got a bit of good karma out there today because of that.”

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