13 Jul 2022 | Professional golf |

Smith the artist to take over St Andrews

by Dane Heverin

Cameron Smith.

St Andrews is a blank canvas for Cameron Smith and he plans to create a masterpiece as he hunts a maiden major victory at the 150th Open this week.

The world number six showed off his array of tricks on a windy Wednesday at the Home of Golf as he, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and South African Garrick Higgo thoroughly examined the back nine while three-time tennis grand slam champion Ash Barty walked the Old Course with them.

Smith, 28, played multiple balls off nearly every tee to test out a variety of methods, from aggressive drives to low-flight irons, to punch through head winds, fight off cross breezes and get the ball rolling on fairways Tiger Woods described as firmer than many of the greens.

“Trying to be creative is the theory the last few days,” Smith said.

“[Driving] has been a bit of a challenge the last couple of days in the wind. I feel like I’m hitting the driver really good.”

Smith’s driving has proved troublesome at times but his short game is where he has always shined. 

The final practice day’s packed galleries experienced his genius first-hand and were left in awe as the Queenslander combined low-running approaches with majestic chips which landed softly like a butterfly.

He said he was simply having fun allowing his mind to go to work on the various scenarios available.

“Around the greens, there’s so many options. I think you can putt the ball here from, it seems like, 50, 60 yards, which is a little bit different to what we’re used to,” Smith said.

“But there’s so many options. I’ve been hitting every club, it seems like, in the bag from 30, 40 yards in, and just really seeing what happens. I think the wind plays a big factor even when you’re trying to hit along the ground here.

“You have to have all the shots down pat here. There’s going to be some pretty ugly spots you get yourself into out there. Links golf is trying to hit the perfect shot and hoping for the best.

“You’ve just got to be ready for it. You’ve got to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

His playing partners also provide a wealth of knowledge on the course’s intricacies with Leishman losing in a playoff and Scott hitting the lead in the final round the last time this event was played at St Andrews in 2015.

Smith watched them closely today, but particularly his great mate Leishman.

“Leish is so creative and he’s able to hit those shots against the wind, which I think is going to be a real advantage this week with the firmness of the fairways.

“We played the back nine today, and he was able to hit that little cut into the wind while I was kind of riding the wind and ended up in the rough. Leish was able to hit that cut into the wind and kind of keep himself on the fairways.

“Going to go work on it this afternoon, and hopefully he’s helped me out.”

Round 1 tee times AEST

  • 3:35pm Min Woo Lee, Webb Simpson, Paul Lawrie

  • 4:30pm Lucas Herbert, Phil Mickelson, Kurt Kityama

  • 5:03pm Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Seamus Power

  • 6:25pm Brad Kennedy, Ernie Els, Adri Arnaus

  • 7:53pm Anthony Quayle, Zander Lombard, John Parry

  • 8:36pm Jed Morgan, Ryan Fox (NZ), Mark Calcavecchia

  • 10.15pm Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Dustin Johnson

  • 11.15pm Jason Scrivener, Shugo Imahira, David Law

  • 12.43am Dimitrios Papadatos, Matt Griffin, Laurie Canter

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