Smith pips Lee for Aust golf's top gong

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Cameron Smith admits boredom is partly to thank for one of the great golfing years culminating in another Greg Norman Medal win.


The world No.3 and Open Championship winner was crowned Australia's best golfer for the second time at a Brisbane ceremony on Tuesday night.

He pipped women's world No.3 and US Women's Open champion Minjee Lee - already a two-time Medal winner - for the honour in the most hotly contested race since the award's inception in 2015.

Smith reached No.2 in the world in a season that began with a record 34-under-par win at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. 

He went on to take The Players Championship in March, was tied third at the Masters, romped to his first major title at St Andrews and won LIV Chicago after joining Norman's controversial rebel tour.

Smith is in Brisbane ahead of Thursday's Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland - his first appearance at the event in three years - and is currently rated "the best player in the world" according to peer Scott Hend.

The 27-year-old traced his formidable form back to a decision to hit the gym rather than the couch when COVID-19 restrictions scuppered a return to play in Australia late last year.

"It was kind of actually boredom, I guess," Smith reflected on Tuesday before he was aware of his latest honour.

"There was not much to do other than go fishing and drink a few beers with the boys.

"I wanted to see how far I could push myself ... I didn't expect it to come together so quick, but happy it did and I'm excited to keep pushing myself and make myself a better golfer."

West Australian Lee also peaked at No.2 in the world, finished joint runner-up at the US PGA Championship and was equal fourth at the British Open to win women's golf's major player of the year.

She pocketed a second seven-digit cheque for the year as the winner of the $US1 million ($A1.5m) AON Risk Reward Challenge, finished second on the LPGA Tour money list and was runner-up behind New Zealand's Lydia Ko for player-of-the-year honours.

But judges Rodger Davis, Karrie Webb, Julia Boland, Peter O'Malley and Ian Baker-Finch opted not to split the honours, Smith joining Lee and Jason Day as a two-time winner.

"We're very proud of Cam as someone who is home-grown, authentic and incredibly skilful at what he does," PGA of Australia boss Gavin Kirkman said.

"It must have been a really difficult decision for this medal in 2022 because we also had Minjee Lee winning the US Women's Open - the biggest tournament in women's golf. But Cam's year was absolutely incredible.

"It's fair to say that by performing on the biggest stages in world golf, he and other players like Minjee Lee, have given golf in this country an incredible shot in the arm." 

PGA AWARD WINNERS 

* Greg Norman Medal: Cameron Smith

* PGA Tour of Australasia Player of the Year: Dimitrios Papadatos

* PGA Legends Tour Player of the Year: Andre Stolz

* Margie Masters WPGA Tour Player of the Year: Hannah Green

* High performance coach of the year: Grant Field

* Game development coach of the year: John Collins

* Club professional of the year: Joe Janison

* Management professional of the Year: Des Shearer

* International member of the year: Duc Pham

* National associate of the year: Mitchell Smith

* MyGolf deliverer of the year: Tybin Lawson

GREG NORMAN MEDAL WINNERS

* 2015: Jason Day, 2016 Jason Day, 2017 Marc Leishman, 2018 Minjee Lee, 2019 Hannah Green, 2020 Cameron Smith, 2021 Minjee Lee.

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