04 Jun 2022 | Professional golf |

Smith eyeing Tiger Woods record at Memorial

by PGA of Australia

Cameron Smith.

By Tony Webeck

Aussie No.1 Cameron Smith can match a feat only Tiger Woods can claim as he takes a one-stroke lead into the third round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.

Once again it was the Smith short game that is regarded widely as the best in the world that held his second round of three-under 69 together, particularly on the back nine when fairways proved hard to find.

The highlight was a crafty chip-in using precision touch for birdie at the par-3 12th as he used a 88.89 per cent scrambling performance – including two-for-two in sand saves – to edge one shot clear of Denny McCarthy (69) and KH Lee (70) through 36 holes.

Seeking his third win of the year, if Smith can maintain his position at the top of the leaderboard through Sunday afternoon he will join Woods as the only players in PGA TOUR history to win THE PLAYERS Championship and Memorial Tournament in the same season.

And a golf course that continues to firm up only serves to further play to Smith’s favour.

“I’d love a firm and fast golf course,” Smith said following his second round. “Growing up in Australia, Aussies love that.

“I don’t think it’s going to be too windy over the weekend. So they can really kind of let this course get nice and firm. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

A perennial challenger now whenever he tees it up, Smith stayed on top despite hitting only eight of 14 fairways and nine of 18 greens in regulation.

Improving his accuracy off the tee has been a major focus of late and is an area he knows needs to sharpen up if he is to complete a wire-to-wire victory.

“Really happy with where my short game’s at. I feel like I’m rolling the ball really good. Just need to sort out that longer stuff,” Smith conceded.

“Didn’t really hit many fairways on the back nine, just need to hit a few balls and sort it out.

“I’m playing some of the best golf of my life, and I feel I’m getting more consistent with the longer stuff.

“Just looking forward to everything coming up.”

With Smith sitting pretty on top it was an otherwise difficult day for the hefty Australian contingent.

Jason Day (74) is the next best down in a tie for 48th as Cam Davis (75), Adam Scott (76) and Lucas Herbert (76) snuck in under the cut-line.

The cut-line is of no concern to Anthony Quayle after he put himself in contention for the second week running on the Japan Golf Tour with a second round of five-under 67 at the BMW Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup.

Losing in a playoff a week ago at the Mizuno Open, Quayle moved into a share of third in a weather-affected second round on Friday, two strokes back of Aguri Iwasaki (64) and Taichi Kimura (67).

Still seeking that elusive first win in Japan, Quayle had his momentum disrupted by the weather delay on Friday but is happy to be in the hunt again at the halfway stage.

“I feel like I was playing good enough to sort of sneak one or even two more birdies (just before the suspension),” said Quayle, winner of the Queensland PGA Championship in January.

“I was playing really nicely and just had some momentum. But I’ll take two pars on the 17 and 18 every day this week, so I’m happy with that.

“And I’m very happy to be where I am right now.”

Brad Kennedy is the next best of the Australians, five shots off the lead at three-under par.

Of the Aussies in action on world tours this week Jason Scrivener is in a tie for eighth at the DP World Tour’s Porsche European Open, Travis Smyth and Todd Sinnott are three shots off the lead in a tie for 13th at the Asian Tour’s International Series England, Ryan Ruffels is tied for 12th at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Rex Hospital Open and Stuart Appleby is tied for fifth at the Champions Tour’s Principal Charity Classic.

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