30 Jul 2021 | Professional golf |

Round 2 | Smith primed for the weekend as Schauffele leads

by Dane Heverin

Cam Smith leans on his putter during round 2 of Tokyo 2020.

Cameron Smith (-4) surged up the leaderboard, while Marc Leishman (+1) slipped back during the second round of the Olympic men’s competition at Kasumigaseki Country Club on Friday.

In conditions Australian team captain Ian Baker-Finch described as “typical Brisbane summer weather”, Smith shot seven birdies in a four-under par round of 67.

The Queenslander nearly holed his approach shot on the first and it set the tone for the first 14 holes of his round.

Six birdies, and near misses at seven, eight and nine, followed as he moved into the top-five, but a weather delay of more than two hours halted his momentum.

He slipped up with a bogey on the 15th when play resumed, but a major setback came via an unlucky ricochet on the par-4 18th.

Smith’s drive into the left rough was always going to make things difficult with the pond at the front-right of the green in play.

Initially it seemed he had avoided the main obstacle with a pulled shot heading towards the temporary grandstand left of the green.

However, a nasty bounce off the grandstand steps sent the ball 50 metres hard right, across the fairway and into the pond - resulting in a double bogey.

“That was pretty unfortunate,” Smith said.

“I was just trying to hit it down there on the left and the rough kind of caught the heel a little bit and it went a little bit further left than I anticipated.

“But it was a pretty frustrating day as it was - I felt like I did a lot of good stuff today and didn’t get the most out of my round.”

A Thursday evening range session with coach Grant Field on the phone did click things into gear for Smith, but his finish left him frustrated.

“I hit it really good, just kind of didn’t get into a rhythm after the rain delay,” he said.

“I felt like things were on the right track there, and a bit frustrating to get called in like that, and then to go out and finish like that is pretty annoying.

“It’s pretty fair to say that I left a few shots out there with that - so I know my game’s there, I just need to do much of the same on the weekend.”

Fellow Australian Marc Leishman fell away on Friday to be one-over par when play was suspended for the day. 

The Victorian’s round was twice interrupted by weather after five holes and on the 17th green.

He bogeyed the first, as he did yesterday, but responded with four consecutive pars heading into his first break.

Upon resumption, he smashed a drive to the back edge of the green on the 337m par-4 sixth and nearly sunk a lengthy eagle putt, but it did not give him the momentum he desired.

A trio of bogeys at nine, ten and eleven pushed Leishman down the leaderboard, but he rallied with a birdie and four pars afterwards.

Overnight leader Sepp Straka’s (-8) even par round opened the door for others to stamp their authority on the tournament and American Xander Schauffele (-11) grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

The world number five made eagles on the sixth and par-5 14th before storming home with a trio of birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th to snatch the lead from Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz (-10).

Ortiz led for most of the day as he opened the day with an up-and-down front nine 33 and steadied with eight pars and a birdie after the turn. 

Beneath the Mexican is a log-jam of players at seven- and eight-under par.

Hometown hero Hideki Matsuyama (-8) is in a four-way tie for third after a bogey free sixteen holes - playing alongside Leishman his round was also stopped on the 17th green.

He is joined by Straka, Chilean Mito Pereira and Swede Alex Noren.

Pereira shot six-under for the day to make his move, while Noren matched his 67 yesterday with another 67 today.

Irishmen Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry impressed with rounds of 66 and 65 respectively to be four shots off the leader and in medal contention.

Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond (-7) shot even par for the day after his brilliant opening round, while Englishmen Paul Casey (-7) fought back from bogeys at the 12th and 13th with three birdies in his last five holes.

Leishman will resume his second round at 8:45am AEST Saturday morning. Third round tee times will be between 10:30am and 12:18pm AEST on Saturday.

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