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