Cameron Smith suffered a meltdown on the 72nd hole on Monday (AEST) after losing joint control of the lucrative World Golf Championship event at TPC Southwind.

The Australian was tied at 16 below and went to the 18th hole, where a par would have sent him into a four-way playoff against Hideki Matsuyama, Abraham Ancer and Sam Burns.

But Smith was aiming for victory in regulation – and it backfired spectacularly.

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Smith got aggressive on the tee, firing a 346 yard drive far to the right of the fairway and into the trees.

He then decided not to break out but to aim at a small gap between the pine trees to try to find the green in the regulation.

But his rescue attempt hit one of the trees and bounced backwards out of the way.

A penalty drop ensued and Smith eventually opted for a double bogey to finish the tournament at 14 under, two behind the leaders.

The event winner raked in nearly A $ 2.5 million.

Smith finished fifth in a tie to cash in about $ 520,000 instead.

The 27-year-old was in his first event since returning from the Tokyo Olympics when he missed a seven-man bronze playoff by one shot due to a bogey on the final hole.

Ancer won the playoff with a birdie on the second playoff hole.

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