The best 72-hole score in relation to par Jordan Smith had shot on the DP World Tour prior to this week’s Portugal Masters was 22 under at the MyGolfLife Open in South Africa. It came last March and left him into a three-way playoff that he ultimately lost to Pablo Larrazabal.
It’s this context that makes the Englishman’s 30-under performance the past four days at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura, Portugal, all the more remarkable. It’s not often you beat your own personal best by eight (!) shots.
Oh, and this time, be got the win, too.
The win part—by three strokes over Gavin Green—is actually quite important as the 29-year-old Smith hadn’t had one of those since the 2017 Porsche European Open. That triumph five-plus years ago was the first of his DP World Tour career and it came in just his 25th overall start. Suffice it to say, big things were expected—by him and others. Yet it took 1,918 days and 130 more starts before he claimed victory No. 2.
“There’s a lot of pressure I put on myself and people putting on me,” said a tearful Smith finishing up his wire-to-wire win that included rounds of 62-67-62-63 for a 254 total. “It’s just nice to finally get a second win.”
Smith started the final round with a two-shot edge on Green and was still only two ahead at the turn despite shooting a four-under 31 on the front nine. But birdies on 10, 12 and 15 stretched the lead to five shots at one point and took the suspense out of the last few holes.
Remarkably, Smith started the week by changing out his putter. He ended it having recorded 27 birdies and three eagles.
While scores overall were low in Portugal, Smith’s play was simply distinct from the rest of the field. In solo third was Tappo Pulkkanen, eight shots back of Smith. Eddie Pepperell was nine back in solo fourth. The foursome finishing T-8 was 13 shots off Smith’s pace.
While win No. 2 took time to grab, this wasn’t an out-of-the-blue accomplishment. In 22 starts on the DP World Tour during the 2022 season, Smith has had eight top-10 finishes. With the win, he moved into ninth place in the tour’s season-long points list with just two events remaining in 2022.
The only disappointing thing for Smith is the fact that while besting the DP World Tour’s 72-hole scoring record in relation to par (29 under set by Ernie Els in 2003) and aggregate score (255 set by Thaworn Wirachant in 2005 and matched by Garrick Higgio in 2021), Smith can’t officially claim either mark as his own due; the tournament was played under preferred lies throughout the week.
Still, don’t let that sway you into putting too big an asterisk on Smith’s accomplishment. The entire field could put the ball in hand any only one other golfer was within seven shots of Smith at week’s end.