Australia's Cameron Smith survived a late scare as he produced a rollercoaster final round of 66 to claim victory at the Players Championship in dramatic style.

The 28-year-old found the water on the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass as he carded 10 birdies and four bogeys to finish on 13 under par, but overnight leader Anirban Lahiri was unable to make him pay as the three he needed to take it to a play-off eluded him.

Smith ultimately landed the $3.6million prize money, along with three-year exemptions to the Masters, US Open and the Open Championship, by a single shot with England's Paul Casey, who had started the tournament with a triple bogey, a further shot behind in third.

Shane Lowry, despite a birdie spurt around the turn, failed to get close enough to the leaders on Monday, ultimately finishing seven strokes back on six-under par after carding a final round 72.

The winner, Smith was watched by his mother and sister, who he had not seen for more than two years because of Covid-19 restrictions. In a video posted on the PGA Tour's Twitter account he said: "It's really cool to have them here.

"My main priority really was just to hang out with them and golf was second for these few weeks.

"It's nice to see them and nice to get a win for them."

In a bunched field, the Australian soared into the lead after a stunning opening to his final round, rattling in four birdies in the opening four holes, adding another on the sixth for good measure.

Norwegian Viktor Hovlund, whose belated completion of his third round had included a hole-in-one at the eighth, picked up where he had left off to head for the 12th tee with five birdies having taken him to eight under.

Smith faltered with back-to-back bogeys at the seventh, eight and ninth holes and playing partner Casey, having reignited his challenge with a birdie three at seven, reached the turn with a bogey and another birdie to take a share of the lead on nine under par.

Cameron Smith plays his tee shot at 17

Hovlund had slipped back to eight under with a five at the 12th as Lahiri hooked his tee shot at the par three eighth and had to take a drop, eventually carding a double bogey. However, the Indian battled his way way back superbly, with a birdie at the 9th and an eagle at 11 torpedoing him back into contention.

Birdies at the 10th and 11th holes saw 2011 PGA Champion Keegan Bradley join Smith and Casey at the head of the field as rain started to fall, and a three for Hovlund at 14 increased the leading pack to four.

After his brief bogey blitz, Smith re-gathered his momentum with another birdie streak - again four in a row between 10 and 13 to regain command of the competition.

Remarkably, he only registered one par in the first 13 holes before carding three in a row between 14 and 16, scrambling saves at the latter two of the trio after an excellent up-and-down at 15 and surviving an appalling hooked tee shot at the 16th.

A timely tenth birdie on the par-3 17th gave him a three-shot advantage coming to the 72nd.

He suffered a violent wobble on the final hole, his recovery shot from the pine needles finding the water opposite, as Lahiri cranked up the pressure with a birdie at the 71st.

However, Smith managed to get up and down for a bogey, minimising the damage and maintaining a one-stroke lead.

From the clubhouse, he watched the Indian Lahiri - one of the overnight leaders - fail to register a closing birdie to force a playoff, embracing his family in the clubhouse as his victory was confirmed.


FINAL STANDINGS: The Players Championship


Lowry, well in contention after a fine 67 on Day 3, adorned by a hole-in-one on the famous 17th hole, endured a frustrating opening, shaving the hole with a birdie attempt on the par-five second hole and then following it with a costly bogey on the third.

Another bogey on the sixth left Lowry well back on four-under-par, at one stage eight strokes behind the surging Smith.

Lowry finished tied-13th after a final round of 72

However, as the leaders faltered, the 2019 Open champion rallied around the turn, with three birdies in four holes between the eighth and the 11th and suddenly he was back within striking distance, three shots off the lead.

But as Smith found his form again, Lowry failed to make any further inroads, parring the next six holes through to the 17th, finishing on a flat note with a closing bogey, leaving him outside the top 10. Lowry ultimately wound up in a tie for 13th on six-under.

The other two Irish players in the field, Seamus Power and Rory McIlroy, finished on three-under-par for the week in a tie for 33rd.

It could have been better for Power who, starting on the 10th, hit an early hot streak, with four birdies in six holes between the 11th and 16th carrying him to five-under overall. However, he dunked his drive at 17 into the water, the resulting double-bogey dropping him back to three-under. He was even par for his inward nine, two bogeys cancelling back-to-back birides on the 2nd and 3rd.

McIlroy, well back at the beginning of the day having just snuck inside the cut-line, finished with a superb 66, with four birdies and an eagle on the par-five 11th.

Elsewhere, Dustin Johnson had chipped in at the last to equal the course record of 63, while fellow American Russell Henley, who started on the back nine, had a day to remember as he finished with a round of 68 which included an albatross two at the 11th and an eagle three at the second.

Additional reporting: PA