It was the asterisk that followed him everywhere but Cameron Smith can now happily leave it behind.
Smith broke through for his maiden solo PGA TOUR title at the Sony Open on Monday afternoon in a dramatic finale that saw him hang tough despite trailing by two with two holes to play.
On a rain-soaked and blustery Waialae Country Club layout, Smith trimmed the three-shot deficit that he began the day with to just one courtesy of a birdie at the opening hole but American Brendan Steele kept him at arm’s length.
Lengthy birdie putts led to tap-in pars, a birdie at 12 was cancelled out with a bogey at 15 yet still Smith stayed in contention.
Steele’s two-shot buffer was reduced to one after a bogey at the 71st hole and when the California native pulled his approach into the par-5 18th left of the grandstands a Smith win in regulation all of a sudden became a possibility.
Instead it was a clutch putt for birdie from nine feet by Smith and two-putt par from Steele that saw the pair finish level at 11-under par and sent the tournament into extra-time where even more drama would unfold
Having drawn the honour Smith blocked his tee shot into the trees right of the 10th fairway but was able to apply pressure on Steele by hitting a superb recovery shot to around 10 feet.
In response, Steele went long with his second shot and was unable to get up-and-down to save par, Smith knocking his first putt to a foot from the hole before tapping in for his first individual title on the PGA TOUR.
“That’s been one that I’ve wanted to tick off for a long time,” said Smith, who won the 2017 Zurich Classic with Swede Jonas Blixt, a two-man teams event.
“I’ve been out here four or five years now and to finally say that I have won an event by myself is quite good.”
On a number of occasions Smith leant on his renowned short game to remain in the hunt and said it was just a matter of scrambling to stay in touch until an opportunity presented itself.
“You just had to hang in there,” explained Smith, a two-time Australian PGA champion.
“No one was playing good golf today it seemed like.
“The conditions got a lot easier at the end but just hung in there and what do you know.”
In a week where the golf world has extended its arms to help in fundraising efforts with the bushfire disaster gripping the continent, Smith hoped that his win and that of countryman Wade Ormsby in Hong Kong could brighten the spirits of those doing it tough.
“It’s been an Aussies week,” said Smith.
“Wade won this morning over in Asia and me winning here, I just hope that brings a little bit of joy to some people who are going through some tough times.”