Smith’s Olympic dream almost done after PGA struggle

2024 PGA Championship - Round Three
Min Woo Lee at the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

Min Woo Lee all but shattered Cameron Smith’s slim Olympic hopes finishing strong as the leading Australian at the PGA Championship after a final day surge from Lucas Herbert failed to materialise.

Lee declared he was “trending in the right direction” after closing with a four-under 67, good enough to finish in a tie for 26th with a rankings boost likely to propel him from 36 and more spots clear of Smith who had a Sunday struggle as Xander Schauffele recorded his breakthrough major championship win.

Smith finished exactly where he was after the opening round, on three-under, closing with a round of two-over 73 having struggled to get anything going across the weekend.

He would need to win the US Open next month to have any chance of leaping over Lee who will continue to rack up the rankings points which will determine Olympic spots as Smith heads back to the LIV tour before the year’s third major.

“My driving wasn’t too good the last couple of days,” Lee said after a positive finish to the tournament in Louisville, Kentucky.

“If my driving’s up to scratch, then I can definitely attack and make some more birdies.

“But it didn’t feel comfortable over the last two days, so it was quite tough to make some birdies.

“So I thought I did pretty good with my recovery (game) the last few days and, yeah, very happy.

“I’m definitely trending in the right direction. I feel like I’m slowly becoming a better player.

“I left some out there but that’s just how it is and I think we can learn from that. A solid week.”

2024 PGA Championship - Final Round
Cameron Smith failed to fire at the PGA (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Herbert, who plays with Smith on the LIV tour and found himself at the PGA after a special invitation was extended, had been eyeing a maiden top-10 finish at a major when he teed off in a tie for 16th, six shots behind third-round leaders Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa.

But there were no final day heroics from the 28-year-old Victorian who instead went backwards, tumbled down the leaderboard after opening with a double-bogey and finally finish with a three-over 74.

Herbert ended up in a tie for 43rd at six under with, among others, fellow Australian Jason Day, who closed with a 71 at a disappointing event for the Australian contingent.