Winning always requires a little luck, but the run of good fortune Chris Smith rode to his first Tour victory, at the Buick Classic, was remarkable. Smith hit only four fairways at Westchester Country Club on Sunday but routinely drew good lies in the tangly rough, and he got the break of the century on the 442-yard, par-4 11th hole (above). Trying to lay up short of the creek that splits the fairway 290 yards from the tee, Smith blasted a five-wood that landed 10 feet short of the hazard. I've played the hole a million times (I used to teach at Westchester), and every ball I've seen land in that spot has bounced into the water. Smith's, though, took a fortuitous hop, touching down on the creek's near edge and then bouncing onto the rocks on the far edge. Instead of careering sideways or backward off the rocks and into the hazard, his ball scooted forward into a good lie in the rough, from which he escaped with another ho-hum par.
The fates were also kind to Smith at numbers 13 and 17. On both holes he drove into a deep fairway bunker but was left with an uphill lie inches clear of a steep lip. Beautifully executed iron shots allowed him to make two crucial pars.
Runner-up Pat Perez is the most talented rookie on Tour and could've won twice this year—at Pebble Beach and last week—if he had Smith's even-keeled demeanor. Unfortunately, Perez is a walking time bomb, and he blew up again last weekend, hurling his club after a muffed approach last Saturday and then spending much of the final round pouting and cursing under his breath. No wonder he has not graced the winner's circle yet.