15 May 2024 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Smith finds positive in predicted PGA slog

by Tony Webeck

Cameron Smith PGA Championship practice round
Cameron Smith played nine holes of a practice round before rain forced the suspension of play on Tuesday. Photo: Maddie Meyer/PGA of America/PGA of America via Getty Images

He expects the week to be long and rounds to be disrupted yet Australian Cameron Smith has found a silver lining in the heavy conditions predicted for this week’s US PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky.

Being played less than 30 minutes from the home of the Kentucky Derby, heavy rain early in the week, predicted thunderstorms late in Round 2 and further rain for Round 3 on has the course shaping to play as a ‘Soft 7’ rather than a ‘Good 3’.

Fresh from back-to-back LIV Golf team wins with Ripper GC in Adelaide and Singapore, Smith knows that an adjustment will have to be made.

For a player with documented struggles with the driver the past 12 months, the 30-year-old understands that soft conditions could help to avoid the thick rough that abuts Valhalla’s fairways and greens.

“The rough doesn’t seem that long but it’s just really dense. It’s quite patchy so it’s hard to say whether it’s a good or a bad thing,” Smith told the PGA of America, his best finish in the PGA Championship coming 12 months ago where was tied for ninth.

“Obviously coming off the fairways will be far easier but I think the course is going to soften up a lot and probably be easier to hit those fairways and hit those greens.

“It’s probably going to be a long week if you look at the forecast this week. I think there’s going to be a few early mornings so probably keeping it a little bit lighter at the start of the week, conserving some energy will be good.”

Smith completed just nine holes of his practice round on Tuesday before play was suspended.

Having not played when Rory McIlroy won at Valhalla in 2014, he knows any time not spent playing will be dedicated to studying.

“I’ve only managed to play the first nine so far – we’ve got a little weather here today – so I’ll see as much of the course as I can today,” Smith added.

“The course is great, it’s in great shape and it’s tough.

“I haven’t been around here yet so there’ll be a ton of study to go over the next couple of days and a ton of rest.

“Everything feels good. Game feels great. I feel like it’s just been improving this whole year basically.

“I’m pumped and ready for this week.”

Smith is off in Round 1 at 10.26pm on Thursday night AEST with Lucas Herbert the first off the Aussies in action from 9:31pm.

Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner Kazuma Kobori makes his major championship debut from 2:40am Friday morning followed by Cam Davis (3:07am), 2015 champion Jason Day (3:18am) and Min Woo Lee (3:29am).

There are eight Aussies competing in the Mizuho Americas Open on the LPGA Tour while Gold Coast amateur Grace Williams will make her Epson Tour debut in Utah.

A recent graduate of Utah Tech University, Williams was granted a tournament invite to pit her game against those on the verge of playing the LPGA Tour.

“Being able to compete this week is unbelievably exciting,” said Williams, who joins fellow Aussies Cassie Porter and Su Oh in the Copper Rock Championship field.

“Having the opportunity compete and test my game against the pros is something I have been looking forward to all year.

“I believe that college golf in Utah has allowed my course management skill to evolve, as well just being able to play numerous different shots, especially when the weather changes so quickly out here in the desert!

“You really just need to be prepared for everything.”

Photo by Maddie Meyer/PGA of America/PGA of America via Getty Images

Round 1 tee times AEST

US PGA Championship Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky Round 1 9:31pm* Lucas Herbert 9:37pm Ryan Fox (NZ) 10:04pm* Adam Scott 10:26pm* Cameron Smith 2:40am* Kazuma Kobori (NZ) 3:07am Cam Davis 3:18am Jason Day 3:29am Min Woo Lee

Round 2 9:15pm Kazuma Kobori (NZ) 9:42pm* Cam Davis 9:53pm* Jason Day 10:04pm* Min Woo Lee 2:56am Lucas Herbert 3:02am* Ryan Fox (NZ) 3:29am Adam Scott 3:51am Cameron Smith

Defending champion: Brooks Koepka Past Aussie winners: Jim Ferrier (1947), David Graham (1979), Wayne Grady (1990), Steve Elkington (1995), Jason Day (2015) Prize money: $17.5 million TV times: Live 9pm-10am Thursday, Friday; Live 3am-9am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

LPGA Tour Mizuho Americas Open Liberty National Golf Club, Jersey City, New Jersey 9pm Karis Davidson 9:33pm* Sarah Kemp 9:55pm* Lydia Ko (NZ) 10:06pm Gabriela Ruffels 10:17pm Hannah Green 2:05am* Stephanie Kyriacou 3am* Grace Kim 3:11am Minjee Lee 3:44pm Robyn Choi

Defending champion: Rose Zhang Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $3 million TV times: Live 5am-8am Friday on Fox Sports 506; Live 5am-8am Saturday, Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo.

Japan Golf Tour Kansai Open Golf Championship Meishin Yokaichi Country Club, Shiga 8:20am Anthony Quayle 1:30pm Brad Kennedy 1:40pm* Michael Hendry (NZ)

Defending champion: Yasuka Hanamigawa Past Aussie winners: Brad Kennedy (2013) Prize money: ¥80,000,000

Korn Ferry Tour AdventHealth Championship Blue Hills Country Club, Kansas City, Missouri 9:56pm* Dimi Papadatos 10:07pm* Rhein Gibson 10:18pm* Steven Bowditch 10:29pm Brett Drewitt 5:22am Charlie Hillier (NZ)

Defending champion: Grayson Murray Past Aussie winners: Prize money: $1 million

Ladies European Tour Amundi German Masters Golf and Country Club Seddiner See, Berlin, Germany 5:54pm* Momoka Kobori (NZ) 10:12pm* Amy Walsh 10:45pm* Kirsten Rudgeley

Defending champion: Kristyna Napoleaova Past Aussie winners: Karrie Webb (2013) Prize money: €300,000 TV times: Live 7pm-10pm Thursday, Friday; Live 8:45pm-11pm Saturday on Fox Sports 505; Live 8pm-11pm Sunday on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo.

PGA TOUR Americas Inter Rapidisimo Golf Championship Club El Rincón de Cajicá, Bogotá, Colombia 9:50pm Harry Hillier (NZ) 3:20am Jason Hong

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $225,000

Epson Tour Copper Rock Championship Copper Rock Golf Course, Hurricane, Utah 11:30pm* Amelia Garvey (NZ) 4:31am* Grace Williams (a) 5:04am Fiona Xu (NZ) 5:15am* Cassie Porter 5:59am* Su Oh

Defending champion: Savannah Vilaubi Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $250,000

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