Golf Australia

Cam Smith starts hot in Jersey

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith with caddie Sam Pinfold at Liberty National today. Image: Getty

Cameron Smith doesn’t want to go home. The Queenslander is on the margins at the US PGA Tour’s playoff series, but his first-round 67 at The Northern Trust at Liberty National today puts him in position to go at least another week.

Smith, 25, made five birdies and just one bogey with a three-putt at the par-four third hole.

He was the best of the Australians in a tie for 17th as the three-tournament swing to decide the winner of the season-long Fedex Cup race began in New Jersey.

Smith is ranked 79th on the points list going into this week, with only the top 70 going through to next week’s BMW Championship at Medinah.

The other Aussie to stand up was New South Welshman Matt Jones, who needs a big week at Liberty National to survive into the second round, ranked 115th. But Jones carded an opening 67 to get himself into a good position.

Of the other Australians, Adam Scott began with a nice 68, Jason Day carded 72 and Marc Leishman fought back from a poor front nine to post 73. Leishman, who made a triple bogey at the ninth, is confirmed for the Tour Champinship for the top 30 players in Atlanta in two weeks’ time.

Aaron Baddeley withdrew after four holes with an injury and his season is over, although he has the consolation prize of a playing card for next season on the basis of his play in 2019.

American Troy Merritt is the first-round leader at 62, a shot ahead of world No. 2 Dustin Johnson at 63 on a day when the course was soft, the scoring low and plenty of darts were thrown.

The scoring put into perspective the poor start of former world No. 1 Tiger Woods, who complained of back stiffness again in the lead-up, hardly practised and began with a four-over par 75 with five bogeys and a double bogey.

Woods’ situation is problematic; he is not in the top eight Americans on the standings for the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in December and unless he finds form quickly, may have to decide himself as captain if he will play as a discretionary selection.

When he won the Masters in April, following his Tour Championship victory late last year, it was widely thought that he would present as the force that he used to be. Sadly, that has not turned out to be the case.

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