Sarah Jane Smith earned her first win in 13 years on Sunday, becoming the second woman to win in the WebEx Players Series in Australia in 2023 -- taking down a mixed field to earn her first victory as a mother.
Smith won the TPS Murray River tournament at Cobram Barooga Golf Club in Barooga, New South Wales, Australia. With a final round of 6-under 65, Smith ran away from the field to win by five shots over Andrew Martin and Shae Wools-Cobb on 20-under 264 and earn AUD$45,000.
It is Smith's first pro win since a win on what is now known as the Epson Tour in New York. She and husband Duane Smith welcomed their son, Theo, into the world three years ago.
“I think you appreciate it anyway, but after the couple of years I’ve had on the course, it’s just extra special,” she said.
For the second year in a row, the Cobram Barooga TPS event has been won by a woman, with major champion Hannah Green doing it last year and drinking a celebratory beer out of a shoe. Just last weekend, Min A Yoon from South Korea won in the WebEx Players Series.
Smith lost her full LPGA Tour status after the 2022 season, and the 38-year-old considered walking away from the pro game. Her coach, Grant Field, changed her mind.
“I didn’t feel done at the end of last year, but I knew I wasn’t in the right place for (LPGA) Tour school," Smith said after the win. "I thought I’d come home, play the Aussie Open. It worked out that I could see Grant, spend some time with him.
“He’s been drumming into me that it’s not over unless I want it to be. To see everything come together this quickly is incredible. Because I was basically done at the end of last year, unless something changed drastically. I’m pretty happy, a little bit surprised with this.”
Smith played nearly flawless golf on Sunday, missing just one fairway and two greens. Her coach gave her some important things to remember throughout the final round.
“Grant gave me one thing that made me feel good all day,” she said. “He told me to enjoy the (expletive) out of it, but he told me, ‘Just because you feel different doesn’t mean the skills won’t be the same.' That’s something I’ve felt when I was nervous before, I worried it would go away. I’d hit one bad shot and it would snowball. Today I kept repeating that, reminding myself that just because I felt like that, it wasn’t going to be any different."
As for Smith, she will play the Vic Open at 13th Beach this coming week and TPS Sydney at Bonnie Doon, before returning to the US to try her luck again.