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Smail gains one shot win

David Smail won the Canon Challenge by one stroke from American David Gossett at the Castle Hill Country Club in Sydney today.

The New Zealander, who tried in vain to find a leaderboard that would show his progress over the final holes, won his second successive PGA Tour of Australasia tournament after carded a closing five-under par 67 for 19-under 269.

South Australian Justin Cooper (66) tied with surprise overnight leader Tod Power (70) for third on 17-under 271.

Smail's victory seven days after claiming his maiden title, the New Zealand Open in Auckland, highlighted a remarkable career turnabout.

He told friends before the NZ Open that he would be happy to be a journeyman who picked up healthy cheques each week without taking the extra step to victory.

"I feel better about my game now but I've always considered myself to be a steady sort of player, top 10 and top 20 most weeks, pretty consistent," Smail said.

"But I never considered myself a winner, especially not back-to-back.

"Hopefully, it will continue and I'll keep playing rather nicely.

"I had a lot of discussions with friends and players about ... you can go along and make nice cheques and some pretty good money and you don't actually need to win.

"I was resigning myself to the fact that's what I might carry on doing for the next three years."

Needing two sessions of physiotherapy a day because of back soreness suffered while lifting his toddler son out of the bath, Smail admitted he had set his sights this week no higher than making the cut.

Smail thought the tournament was over when defending champion Paul Gow recorded an opening-round 60 but tonight, with a cheque for $99,000 in his pocket, he was eyeing the Heineken Classic that gets underwat at The Vines in Perth on Thursday.

"It's unbelievable, just amazing," Smail said.

"My first win last week seemed like a dream come true and this was just something else.

"I didn't expect much at all, especially on that morning when Paul Gow shot 60 and I was standing on the tee 12 behind.

"I was nervous today.

"Last week, I didn't have any nerves at all but today, from about the 15th, I was feeling it, shaking over a few putts but trying to look cool."

Smail, Gossett, Cooper, Power and Gow – who hit a shank in his three-under 69 – led at different stages of a gripping final day before playing partners Smail and Gossett were joint leaders at 18 under on the 17th.

Gossett three-putted from eight metres and Smail replied by sinking a 3m downhill putt to make birdie for a crucial two-shot swing before making a regulation par on 18 for victory.

Local product Gow was an overwhelming crowd favourite but technical glitches that crept into his game on Friday continued to plague him, highlighted by his shanked second shot on the short par-four 16th.

"I was just trying my guts out," said Gow, who will join Gossett at the AT&T International at Pebble Beach on the US Tour.

"I was an accident waiting to happen but I gave it a good defence.

"There were a lot of positives in the whole week – I shot 60.

"I expect something in about five weeks time.

"If I show the balls I did today I could win in the next five weeks."



Tiger Woods will return to Phoenix after skipping the 2000 event. Allsport.


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