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Smith the pick of the Aussies at Augusta

The Queenslander recorded a T6 finish – his fifth top-10 finish at the Masters.

Smith threatened a final-round charge when he produced a spectacular hole-out eagle on the par-5 2nd but the green jacket once again eluded the Australian golf superstar.

For the second day running, he couldn’t buy a putt as World No.1 Scottie Scheffler stormed to a second Masters victory in three years.

Smith failed to jag even one birdie, a run of 13 pars after recording his lone bogey on the 5th never enough to challenge the leaders.

He tied for sixth at two-under with LIV Golf alumni Bryson DeChambeau after signing for a Sunday 71.

“I made a few up and downs today to keep the momentum but just couldn’t get anything going,” Smith said.

The latest top-10 result follows his tie for fifth in 2018, runner-up showing in 2020 – when he became the first player ever to register four rounds in the 60s – a joint 10th in 2021 and equal third two years ago.

Smith had picked up two shots on third-round leader Scheffler during a thrilling front nine to be just four strokes off the pace.

But he couldn’t carry the momentum down the stretch as Scheffler won by four shots from exciting young Swede Ludvig Aberg.

“That was a great start – the start that I needed,” he said of his eagle.

“I hit two good shots in there and then two good shots into the next and it just goes over the back. It was probably another birdie hole.

“I hit a lot of good shots to just outside that birdie range over the weekend.

“If the ball went three or four or five foot closer, it would probably be a different story – but it didn’t.”

Smith only managed 18 practice holes pre-tournament after being consigned to bed for two days with a sapping stomach ailment.

But he offered no excuses.

“I’m not too bad, surprisingly,” he said.

“The adrenalin kept me going out on the golf course.

Adam Scott had an even-par 72 on Sunday to finish in a tie for 22nd. PHOTO: Getty Images.

“The start of the week was definitely a struggle and I didn’t prep the way that I wanted to, but I hit the ball really good, did everything good.

“It just didn’t quite all go to plan.”

Sydneysider Cam Davis shared 12th spot following a final-round 75.

After starting the day at two-under and just five back of Scheffler, Davis dropped shots on the 1st and 5th holes to slip down the leaderboard.

But he still would have joined Smith in the top-10 if not for a lamentable four-putt on the 17th.

Fellow Australians Min Woo Lee and Jason Day produced bright finishes to leave Augusta with their spirits intact ahead of next month’s PGA Championship – the second major of the year.

After starting his Masters campaign with a broken finger and battling the flu, Lee closed with a three-under 69 to climb to four-over and a share of 22nd with six others including Australia’s 2013 champion Adam Scott (72).

“Early on I didn’t have enough trust in the finger but after making plenty of bogeys to start off, I decided to give it a good go,” Lee told AAP.

“I was already on the back foot but since then I shot level par. Pretty decent. It feels good.”

Day also posted a final-round 69 to finish at five over and a tie for 30th.

“The short games nice. Putting’s nice,” Day said.

“I just made too many cheap errors out there, not enough capitalising on the opportunities I had, especially with the par-5s.

“And then just soft bogeys. Just clean that up, tighten the swing up a little bit and I should be good to go.

“The game is shaping up for a good summer. It will be interesting.”

– Darren Walton

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