09 Jul 2023 | Professional golf |
Frustrated Smith forges three clear in London
by Tony Webeck
Cameron Smith has defied a frustrating day with the driver to forge three strokes clear in the LIV Golf London event at Centurion Club.
With his Open Championship defence less than two weeks away, Smith followed up his 8-under 63 on day one with a 4-under 67 in Round 2, taking advantage of the par 5s at nine, 13 and 18 to establish a handy buffer as he seeks to win a second LIV Golf title.
Great mate and fellow Australian Marc Leishman (69) is one of three players in a tie for second at 9-under par, the pair helping Ripper GC to a one-stroke lead in the teams event with one round to play.
Scheduling range time with coach Grant Field immediately after his round, Smith felt fatigued on the back of such a brilliant round in Round 1 and had to lean on his world-class scrambling to stay in front.
“Trying to hit the middle of the club face with driver would be a really nice start,” Smith said of his reasoning for extra time on the range.
“It's always tough to back up a really nice round, and I think that took it out of me.
“Then again today kind of grinding around and having to think a little bit more than what I wanted to… The mind is a little fried at the moment.
“It definitely wasn't my prettiest stuff, but really proud of the way that I hung in there.
“It could have gone south really quick there. It could have gone south a few holes before, as well.
“It was nice to kind of keep that momentum going heading into tomorrow.”
Accustomed to celebrating tournament wins, Smith also has his eye on toasting a victory with his Ripper GC teammates.
“I know in our group chat, we've said multiple times that we need to get up there and spray champagne over each other. That would be a pretty fun experience.
“Still work to be done on the individual side, but it would be nice to see us at the top of the leaderboard on the team side, as well.”
Leishman is also eager to help Ripper GC to a maiden win but is refusing to concede the individual title to ‘Captain Cam’.
Leishman missed a short putt on 18 that would have put him in outright second with one round to play, bouncing back from bogeys at 11 and 12 with birdies at 13 and 15 to keep his hopes alive.
Yet to podium this season, Leishman knows the best way to secure a team victory is to push his good mate all the way to the finish line.
“If we can look after the individual, play as well as we can, all shoot good scores, the team stuff will take care of itself,” said Leishman.
“Hopefully we can do that. Hopefully I can make a bit of a run at Cam and make things interesting.”
Another Aussie chasing a breakout performance is Victorian David Micheluzzi.
The reigning PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner roared into contention at the DP World Tour’s Made in Himmerland tournament in Denmark with a bogey-free 8-under 62 in Round 3.
He will start the final round in a tie for sixth and five shots back of Spain’s Nacho Elvira (66).
Photo: Tom Dulat/Getty Images
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