Cameron Smith, just 21-years old and playing in his first major championship, was quietly hanging around the U.S. Open leaderboard all weekend. Paired alongside Louis Oosthuizen — who shot 29 on the back nine — in the third to last group on Sunday, Smith clung to a solid 1-under performance through 71 holes.
He arrived at the par-5 18th tied with Brandt Snedeker for 7th place. After a punishing 319-yard drive, Smith sized up the green with 3-wood in hand and took a swing that nearly sent him to the clubhouse.
He pured that 3-wood and flew his ball to the green, where it skipped and rolled up to the back edge, caroming off the slope. The roar of the crowd told him everything he needed to know — he had hit it really close. Like nine inches close.
Suddenly Smith had a tap-in eagle, a top-5 finish at the 115th U.S. Open and a six-figure paycheck coming. But that’s not all. That clutch 3-wood earned Smith a spot in the 2016 Masters while his top 10 finish at Chambers Bay also guaranteed him an exemption into next year’s Open at Oakmont.
As if that wasn’t enough, the amount of FedEx Cup points he has assembled throughout this season has assured Smith’s status on the PGA Tour for the rest of the year.
Yes, the eagle earned him an extra $100,000 at the U.S. Open, but depending on how the rest of the 2015 season shakes out, it might have earned him much, much more.