03 Jun 2022 | Professional golf |
Smith grinds his way to top spot at Memorial
by PGA of Australia
By Tony Webeck
World No.3 Cameron Smith has leant on the old adage that it is not how but how many to take a share of top spot in Round 1 of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.
Smith hit just half of the 14 fairways and only 55 per cent of greens in regulation yet made crucial putts when it counted to post five-under 67, joining five others at the top of the leaderboard after day one.
A two-time winner on the PGA TOUR already this season, Smith began his tournament on the back nine and signalled his intentions early.
He made three birdies in his opening six holes – including a spectacular chip-in at the par-4 13th – to turn in three-under but would have to rely on his stellar short game to navigate his final nine holes in less than par.
Birdies at one and three were countered by bogeys at two and four but birdies from 15 and 18 feet at six and nine respectively ensured Smith would end the day as part of a tournament-record logjam of Round 1 leaders.
“It was just good to kind of hang in there, make a few birdies, see a few putts going in,” said Smith, now three months removed from his triumph at THE PLAYERS Championship.
“This is about as easy as this place is going to get. It’s going to be a lot of stressful golf and a lot of grinding over the weekend.
“Nice to kind of tick the box there early in the week.”
Prior to heading to the range for a post-round tune-up, Smith told media that the work he has been doing off the course has provided the freedom he needs to play his best on a more consistent basis.
“I’ve had good and bad weeks in the past,” Smith added.
“I feel as though I’ve just done a little bit of extra work at home this year, really staying on top of a couple of technique things.
“It’s allowed me to free up out here and just play like a kid, hit different shots into the greens and make birdies.”
Adam Scott and Lucas Herbert are in good position following opening rounds of two-under 70, Jason Day and Cam Davis both posted 71s but Marc Leishman (74), Matt Jones (75), Jed Morgan (76), Min Woo Lee (77) and Curtis Luck (78) all need under-par rounds on Friday to be a chance of making the cut.
Travis Smyth is the best of the 22-man Aussie contingent through one round of the Asian Tour’s International Series England, tied for 10th after a round of two-under 70 that featured a back-nine of four-under par.
Jason Scrivener is in a share of 11th after the opening round of the DP World Tour’s Porsche European Open and Brad Kennedy will start the second round of the Japan Golf Tour’s BMW Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup tied for ninth after posting two-under 69 on Thursday.
“Getting some good performances on board gives you the belief,” said Kennedy, who boasts two top-four results in his past two starts, including finishing third at the Mizuno Open last week.
“It also allows you to loosen up a little bit knowing that you’re playing well and being in control of your game as much as you can.”
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