18 Jun 2023 | Professional golf |
Smith sizing up more Sunday heroics at US Open
by Tony Webeck
Cameron Smith knows that he needs a repeat of his Sunday heroics at The Open at St Andrews last year if he is to win a second major championship at the 123rd US Open in Los Angeles.
Smith maintained his spot inside the top 10 in Round 3 at LA Country Club but will begin the final round seven strokes back of co-leaders Rickie Fowler (70) and Wyndham Clark (69) after a round of 1-over 71 on Saturday.
On a day in which the majority of moves were made in a backward direction, Smith made a mid-round charge with back-to-back-birdies at 12 and 13 to move to within five of the lead.
He made bogey at the par-5 14th when his fourth shot from the greenside bunker rolled down the steep fringe protecting the green and dropped shots at both 16 and 17 after finding a fairway bunker and greenside bunker respectively.
A birdie from just inside 25 feet got Smith back to 3-under for the championship and in a tie for ninth with Tom Kim (66) and Bryson DeChambeau (68) with one round to play.
Fellow Australian Min Woo Lee is in a tie for 12th through 54 holes, enhancing his chances of a first career top-10 in a major with late birdies at 14 and 15 in a round of 4-over 74.
With his Open defence looming next month, Smith can call upon those fond memories of St Andrews when he sets out in his final round.
He was four back of Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland on that magical Sunday at St Andrews but knows he will need something even more memorable to become just the second male Australian player to win two of golf’s four majors.
“Probably one of the best rounds of my life,” said Smith when asked what it would take to win.
“It’s going to have to take at least 5 or 6, probably even 7-under, I think.
“The golf course is getting tougher, but there’s still lots of wedges out there.
“The leaders are there for a reason, as well. They’re obviously playing really good golf.”
As the challenge of the North Course continued to increase with each passing hour, Smith bounced back from a bogey on two with a birdie at three, hitting a wedge to 10 feet and making the putt.
He bogeyed five but made birdie on eight to turn even par but after a bogey on 11 moved into red figures with consecutive birdies from the 12th hole.
Generally pleased with how he performed, Smith conceded that the dropped shot on 14 was an untimely swing in momentum.
“I was really looking forward to 14, and a bogey there kind of hurts on a par-5,” said the 29-year-old.
“The game was feeling good all day, to be honest.
“The golf course is so tough, you get out of position once, it’s tough to make a par.
“Lots of good in there. I don’t think there was lots of bad, either. I think it was just the golf course was tough.”
As he did at the PGA Championship, Lee began the third round inside the top 10 but bogeys at two and five and a double bogey at the par-3 seventh set him back on his heels as he began the back nine.
Further bogeys at 10, 12 and 13 sent him tumbling down the leaderboard but only momentarily, his birdies at 14 and 15 dragging him back to the brink of the top 10 with 18 holes to play.
Playing as a single in the first group of the day, Kiwi Ryan Fox was one of only 17 players to break 70 in Round 3, moving up into a tie for 32nd with a 1-under 69.
Round 3 scores T9 Cameron Smith 69-67-71—207 T12 Min Woo Lee 69-65-74—208 T32 Ryan Fox (NZ) 68-74-69—211
Round 4 tee times AEST 4.35am Ryan Fox (NZ), Brian Harman 6.19am Min Woo Lee, Viktor Hovland 6.35am Cameron Smith, Hideki Matsuyama
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