29 Nov 2023 | Australian Open |
Smith gets quick fix, Scott to go for broke
by Martin Blake
Cameron Smith says he’s done the work required to turn his game around and win a national Open in Sydney this week.
Meanwhile Adam Scott has flagged all-out attack as his method in the ISPS HANDA Australian Open starting on Thursday.
Two of the big guns of the men’s field at The Australian and The Lakes this week are in different places leading in.
Smith missed the cut at Royal Queensland in the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship and ended up fighting back a few tears.
But a couple of sessions with coach Grant Field has him thinking that he can contend this week.
Meanwhile Scott says he has adapted his game to the modern way, the focus of which is making copious numbers of birdies.
“Yeah, it was a very frustrating week,” said Smith today. “Obviously the game didn’t feel good. It was pretty upsetting to play like that at home, not only in Australia but in my home town. I had lots of friends and family there that were hoping for another good week, but it wasn’t to be.
“So lots of hard work over the weekend with my coach, Grant. We hit a lot of balls, worked on the right stuff and the game’s feeling pretty good this week.
“The two courses here are pretty challenging, so it’ll be an interesting one, but I just need to go out there and trust and commit to what I’m doing.” The technical explanation for the issues that saw him shoot a Friday 78 at Royal Queensland are interesting.
Smith describes it thus: “I guess kind of my bad habit in my swing technically, to put it simply, my arms get kind of disconnected from my body, so my arms travel a little bit too far and just wasn’t in sync and to be honest, it was a long way out last week. The work last weekend and the beginning of this week has just been trying to get the arms and the body to kind of match.”
Scott, the 2009 champion in Sydney, said his work on statistics with former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari had amounted to the idea that golf had changed, and much lower scores were required.
“So, the game is a way more aggressive game today,” he said. “It’s a more inconsistent game because of that, but if you want to win, you’re going to have to create all those opportunities and make them as well.
"So, I’ve definitely adjusted my style of play to suit the modern player because the approach to managing the golf course is completely different than the way I learned. It’s a bit different at the majors. The majors, the penalty for error is still really high, but generally week to week at Tour events it’s not.
“So, I would sum it up by saying attacking is a better way. You have to accept some bad results because you’re going for it, and if you’re not on, then you’re going to have a bad score. But you’re looking for those five or six weeks a year where you go for it and you’re on and you make a tonne of birdies and you get the big results.”
As for Smith, it rankles with him that he has never won the Open in his home country.
He got into a playoff with Jordan Spieth in 2016 at Royal Sydney, but Spieth holed a birdie putt to beat him.
He dearly wants the Stonehaven Cup.
“It means everything,” he said. “I think growing up as a kid you want to win your National Open. I was fortunate enough to watch a couple of Aussie Opens down here as a teenager and play in a bunch as well.
“So, it’s always created a really good opportunity for me to learn as a young professional and I think just growing up watching it, you want to win it. Yeah, it’s on the radar. It has been for a while and I think I’ve been close a couple of times, which makes it – you want it that little bit extra, which sometimes can be detrimental. But, yeah, I just need to go out there and really commit to what I’m doing.”
Cameron Smith tees off at 7.05am Thursday at The Lakes as he attempts to win his first Australian Open, alongside Min Woo Lee.
Adam Scott’s quest for the Open begins at 12 noon at The Australian alongside two-time winner Matt Jones and defending champion Adrian Meronk.
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