18 May 2022 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Smith ready to delight Tiger's crowd

by Dane Heverin

Cameron Smith during a practice round at Southern Hills.

Cameron Smith is no stranger to massive galleries but in the first two rounds of this week’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Oklahoma the world number four will be thrust onto the periphery of Tigermania. 

The 28-year-old played in the group in front of Tiger Woods on Thursday and Friday at The Masters last month - where he said he felt like a fan at times watching Woods - and the organisers have once again kept him close to the 15-time major champion as this time around Smith will be in a featured group behind Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

“I think there can be a lot of external noise especially with crowds and just a lot more moving parts I guess. So yeah, just another thing to really think about,” Smith said. 

“I wouldn't say I change anything. Just probably make sure, you know, spend a little bit more time worrying about what's happening outside to make sure when you're inside, inside that shot, everything's perfect.”

Smith’s ability to block out the distractions and remain focused is set to be bolstered this week by a combination of rest and work with his trainer and psychologist in the build-up to learn from past mistakes at this event - the only major where he is yet to register a top-20 finish.

“Yeah, I think the PGA is probably the one that I've struggled with the most. It's typically set up, very demanding off the tee,” Smith said. 

“I don't think that's really been my strong suit out here ever. A lot of work the last week on the driver. Trying to get it straight rather than trying to get a little bit more distance out of it. Yeah, just more opportunities from the fairway I think is what I need, especially around here. The rough can be pretty penal.

“I think the course has got a good mix with long and short holes. I think it's going to be quite windy, so there might be a few other woods or longer irons off the tee. It's a bit of a thinker's golf course around here. I really like it.”

The Queenslander began plotting his way around the course, which last hosted this major championship in 2007 when Woods lifted the Wanamaker trophy in stifling heat, earlier in the week and was quickly reminded of home.

“I played nine holes yesterday afternoon and played all 18 morning. I think the golf course is great. I think it's going to be a really good test. I love the surrounds of the greens rolling off, same slopes of golf we play back in Australia,” Smith said. 

“I like that the grass is a little bit longer around the greens. I think some guys that aren't really good around the greens get away with putting a lot, so I think that will test them that way this week.”

Adam Scott will also be in a featured group this week playing with fellow major champions Shane Lowry and Brooks Koepka, while Lucas Herbert, Marc Leishman, Min Woo Lee, Matt Jones, Cam Davis and winner of the 2015 PGA Championship Jason Day round out the Australian contingent.

Round 1 tee times AEST

PGA Championship Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • 10.55pm Cam Davis, Matt Kuchar, Rikuya Hoshino

  • 11.00pm* Cameron Smith, Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris

  • 11.28pm Matt Jones, Richard Bland, Garrick Higgo

  • 11.50pm Ryan Fox, Shawn Warren, Pablo Larrazabal

  • 3.30am Min Woo Lee, Ryan Brehm, Wyatt Worthington II

  • 4.03am Adam Scott, Shane Lowry, Brooks Koepka

  • 4.20am* Marc Leishman, Martin Kaymer, Keegan Bradley

  • 4.25am Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Harold Varner III

  • 5.15am* Lucas Herbert, Chad Ramey, Austin Hurt

Defending champion: Phil Mickelson Past Aussie winners: Jason Day (2015), Steve Elkington (1995), Wayne Grady (1990), David Graham (1979), Jim Ferrier (1947) Top Aussie prediction: Cameron Smith TV schedule on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo Sports:

  • Live 10pm Thursday Round 1 featured groups;

  • Live 4am Friday Round 1 coverage;

  • Live 10pm Friday Round 2 featured groups;

  • Live 4am Saturday Round 2 coverage;

  • Live 3am Sunday Round 3 coverage;

  • Live 3am Monday Final Round coverage.

Korn Ferry Tour Advent Health Championship Blue Hills Country Club, Kansas City, Missouri

  • 11.30pm* Nick Voke, Michael Johnson, Chase Parker

  • 3.26am* Brett Drewitt, Rhein Gibson, Byeong Hun An

  • 5.11am Charlie Hillier, Sam Triplett, Angus Flanagan

Defending champion: Cameron Young Past Aussie winners: James Nitties (2011), Michael Sim (2009) Top Aussie prediction: Brett Drewitt

Challenge Tour Challenge de Espana Iberostar Real Club de Golf Novo Sancti Petri, Cadiz, Spain

  • 5.00pm Josh Geary, Victor Pastor, Matt Ford

  • 6.10pm Jarryd Felton, Dominic Foos, Jorge Maicas

  • 6.10pm* Dimitrios Papadatos, Max Schmitt, Ryan Evans

  • 6.20pm* Daniel Hillier, Julian Suri, Pedro Oriol

  • 10.10pm Deyen Lawson, Clement Berardo, Alex Esmatges

  • 11.10pm Blake Windred, Joel Girrbach, Benjamin Poke

Defending champion: Santiago Tarrio Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Blake Windred

Epson Tour IOA Golf Classic Alaqua Country Club, Longwood, Florida

Australasians in the field: Stephanie Na, Robyn Choi, Julienne Soo, Sarah Jane Smith, Karis Davidson, Amelia Garvey, Hira Naveed, Gabriela Ruffels, Grace Kim, Soo Jin Lee

Defending champion: Allison Emery Past Aussie winners: Hannah Green (2017)  Top Aussie prediction: Gabriela Ruffels

Ladies European Tour Jabra Ladies Open Evian Resort Golf Club, Évian-les-Bains, France

  • 5.30pm* Whitney Hillier, Georgina Blackman, Elena Hualde

  • 6.47pm* Amy Walsh, Maylis Lamoure, Lauren Taylor

Defending champion: Pia Babnik Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Whitney Hillier

Japan Golf Tour Golf Partner Pro-Am Tournament Toride Kokusai Golf Club, Tsukubamirai, Japan

  • 8.55am* Andrew Evans, Shinichi Yokota

  • 9.10am Anthony Quayle, Taichi Nabetani

  • 9.10am* Matthew Griffin, Yusaku Miyazato

  • 9.50am David Bransdon, Yuto Katsuragawa

  • 10.00am* Brad Kennedy, Daiki Imano 

  • 10.10am Adam Bland, Tomoyasu Sugiyama

  • 10.10am* Brendan Jones, Hiroyuki Fujita

  • 10.25am* Michael Hendry, Yosuke Tsukada

  • 10.35am* Dylan Perry, Yosuke Asaji

Defending champion: Shaun Norris Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Brad Kennedy

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