18 Feb 2022 | Professional golf |

Smith in the mix in LA

by Dane Heverin

Cameron Smith during the opening round of the Genesis Invitational.

World number eleven Cameron Smith has put himself firmly in contention at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles with a four-under par opening round of 67.

Smith, 28, carded five birdies in a round full of highlights at Riviera Country Club to be in a share of sixth four shots behind leader, and Presidents Cup teammate, Jaoquin Niemann.

He wasted no time in showing off his short game prowess as he began the day with an exquisite up-and-down for birdie on the 303-yard par-4 tenth.

A big right-to-left putt at the 16th brought his second birdie of the day, but after the turn he got the job done in less conventional fashion.

Smith’s tee shot on the par-5 first ended up on a cart path and rather than taking relief he played the ball as it lied and blasted his second shot to the back edge of the green.

As expected, he proceeded to make the up-and-down for birdie.

“Where I would have dropped would have been in the longer rough, and not being able to choose your lie over a pretty good lie off the concrete was, I mean, it was a hard shot, but it would have been made harder out of the rough,” Smith said.

He saved his most stunning trick for the par-4 third where he chipped-in for another birdie, but Smith feels that he needs to improve with the big stick to make a weekend charge.

“I scrambled really well. I hit my irons really good as well. Yeah, just wasn't my day with the driver,” he said. 

“Just go down to the range and work something out for tomorrow. Yeah, the rest of the game feels really good.”

Adam Scott stormed home with three consecutive birdies to finish one shot back from Smith in a tie for 12th. 

The 2020 Genesis Invitational champion fought back from a one-over front nine as his putter caught fire to close out the day.

Matt Jones and Marc Leishman produced solid one-under par rounds of 70, while Cam Davis finished even-par and Min Woo Lee had a disappointing round of six-over.

In the opening round of the Korn Ferry Tour’s LECOM Suncoast Classic in Florida, Aaron Baddeley started in style with a six-under par round of 65 to sit two shots off the lead in a tie for fifth.

Fellow Australian Curtis Luck is one shot back from Baddeley, while Brett Drewitt is four-under par.

PGA Tour: Genesis Invitational leaderboard

Korn Ferry Tour: LECOM Suncoast Classic leaderboard

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