04 Apr 2023 | Professional golf |
Smith digs out old recipe for success
by Dane Heverin
Cameron Smith wants to turn back the clock to the time before he was a major champion.
Smith achieved the remarkable in 2022 with a PGA Tour record 72-hole low-score in his victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, he one-putted eight of his final nine holes to win The Players Championship, and his crowning moment came with a back nine 30 to claim the Claret Jug in the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.
He saved a bit of magic for his adoring home fans to triumph at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland and those jaw-dropping feats left golf fans expecting to witness the unthinkable every time the 29-year-old set foot on a golf course.
Ahead of another shot at an elusive green jacket at The Masters, Smith admits that he got sucked into those same thoughts in his starts so far this year.
“I think for me, it's about letting the golf course almost open itself up to you. It's never really a golf course where you can go out and try and make birdies. I think that's maybe been a part of my game, especially this year, where I feel like I played so good last year, had such a good year, the expectation was really quite high,” Smith said.
“Then you go out there and you try to make stuff happen, rather than just letting it come to you. I feel like you have to be really patient around here.”
Smith is well-versed in what it takes to play well at Augusta National.
He has four top ten finishes in the last five years at the first major of the year and faced off with eventual champion Scottie Scheffler in the final group last year.
A constant theme throughout Smith’s sensational 2022 was that his wins came at golf courses with similarities to Australia, and he feels that connection too every time he heads down Magnolia Lane.
“I think it reminds me of home in many different ways, I guess. It allows me to be creative, the firmness and fastness of the greens reminds me a lot of the Sandbelt area and just good memories, I think,” Smith said.
“I haven't really had a bad week here in a pretty long time.”
Creativity is one of the key ingredients in Smith’s strong showings in the first major of the year.
He is regarded as possessing arguably the best short game in the world and he is also an excellent shot shaper.
Those skills were on full display at St Andrews, and Augusta National demands them.
“For me, the swing feels really good at the moment. The short stuff feels really, really nice. I'm just working on kind of getting a little bit more creative, hitting some different shots into the greens,” Smith said.
“I feel like I've been maybe a little bit too one-dimensional for a lot of the time this year, and you know, I think that gets back to just kind of being comfortable out on the golf course and really feeling like all your stuff is there, and it just hasn't quite clicked.
“This place for me, I feel like I have to be creative. To get to some of those pins, you have to hit the big high cut. You have to hit the low sweeping draw into a back pin.I'm looking forward to getting out there tomorrow and just falling back in love this place.”
As for any reservations regarding his readiness to contend off the back of a quieter start to the year, Smith insisted that he is tournament ready.
“I'm confident that I can win,” he said.
Click here for our comprehensive guide to following The Masters.
Join our newsletter
Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions.