16 Jul 2022 | Professional golf |

Smith stumbles, but Open flame still burns

by Dane Heverin

Cameron Smith.

By Dane Heverin at St Andrews

Cameron Smith feels ready to chase down the four shot lead of Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy in the final round of The Open despite shooting a one-over par third round of 73 at St Andrews.

Luck was not on Smith’s side on Saturday as he was forced to wrestle with a number of unfortunate breaks after starting the day with a two shot overnight lead.

“The golfing gods weren’t with me today. I felt like I hit a lot of good putts with nothing really dropping,” Smith, who is now 12-under par, said.

“I stuck in there pretty good and I hit the ball pretty good. It’s probably actually the best I’ve hit it all week. Had lots of opportunities, just no putts were dropping which was quite frustrating.”

Smith’s long range putting and short game prowess were again on show after a nervy start with a three-putt bogey at the first, but he came unstuck courtesy of a cruel blow at the 13th.

The world number six had to play his second shot baseball-style while standing in a bunker and he was only able to put the ball into some very thick rough where it took two shots to hack it out towards the green.

Commentators and onlookers were critical of his decision to not take his medicine and punch that second shot onto the fairway, although Smith stands by his approach.

“I thought I hit a perfect drive down there. It’s kind of a blind tee shot so you can’t really see,” he said. 

“It must have got a bit of a bad kick and then it ended up where it was. It just wasn’t my day today. To get something like that after an already frustrating first 12 holes was hard.

“[The second shot] I was just trying to hit it up over the stuff. Somewhere left of the pin, there was so much room up there, I thought I could do it but obviously not. Just mishit it. It was a bit of a hard swing.”

Setbacks do not phase Smith as they came in his victory at The Players Championship in March too and he is excited once again for the opportunity to attack a Sunday with freedom and chase down the leaders.

“I love making birdies and I love making putts and that’s what I need to go out there and do tomorrow. Stay aggressive, maybe a slightly different gameplan off a couple of tees and just try and make a ton of birdies.”

If history continues, Smith is one of only four men - alongside Hovland, McIlroy and playing partner for the second straight day Cameron Young - who could lift with the Claret Jug with no one ever coming from more than four shots back after 54 holes to win an Open at St Andrews.

Adam Scott is looking to re-write the record books however, as he shot a two-under 70 on his 42nd birthday to share eight place at nine-under.

“I need to get out of my own way as much as possible tomorrow heading out. If it's possible to attack a couple of pins, maybe attack a couple pins and have a bit of fun and try and shoot 6- or 7-under somehow on the front nine and put myself in the mix with nine to go,” Scott said.

“It gives you so many opportunities, like eagle opportunities. It's possible that you have four or five eagle opportunities if things go your way. I don't know if it's been done, but if you happen to make three eagles out there, you're look like having a pretty good score.”

Anthony Quayle shot the low Australian round of the day with a four-under 68 to continue his impressive major debut and be tied 24th at five-under, while Lucas Herbert and Min Woo Lee both slipped back one shot to join Quayle at that mark.

Jason Scrivener also broke par with a 71 to move to two-under, while Brad Kennedy stayed at four-under with a second consecutive 72.

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