17 Mar 2022 | Professional golf |

Tastes of home driving Smith's success

by Dane Heverin

Cameron Smith with his family, his best friend Jack Wilkocz and THE PLAYERS Championship trophy.
Cameron Smith with his family, his best friend Jack Wilkocz and THE PLAYERS Championship trophy.

It is no surprise following his massive victory at THE PLAYERS Championship that Cameron Smith said that ‘I’m playing some of the best golf of my life’.

Smith has won twice already on the PGA Tour this year - his other triumph came at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January - and he is currently top of the Tour’s official money list having already pocketed US $5,797,375.

His wins have also come against some of the Tour’s strongest fields and the belief that comes from beating the best has the Queenslander brimming with confidence.

“Obviously to prove myself against 144 of the best guys in the world and come out on top was pretty cool. It's basically our fifth major, everyone treats it like that,” Smith said.

“Guys are there to win, so there's no reason why I can't go on and win one of those big ones.” 

The 28-year-old’s next opportunity to ‘win one of those big ones’ comes at The Masters next month and in his efforts to become just the second Australian to win a green jacket, he is emulating the preparation that spurred on his recent successes.

His win in Hawaii came shortly after spending five weeks - which involved a lot of fishing - with his father Des, while his latest victory came in the presence of his mother Sharon, his sister Melanie - who he had not seen for two years - and his best friend Jack, who moved to the United States to help curb Smith’s homesickness in his early years on the PGA Tour.

It is clear that time with family, friends and even fellow Australians, such as at the Tokyo Olympic Games, is crucial for Smith and that is why he has withdrawn from next week’s World Golf Championship-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas in order to maximise his time with Sharon and Melanie.

“I’m going straight to Augusta. Yeah spend a few days here at home with Mel and Mum before they go,” Smith said.

“Have a nice couple of weeks at home, really prepare for Augusta well and go up there with a fresh set of legs.”

Once he arrives at Augusta National, Smith will then be leaning on a couple of other connections to home to cap off his preparation.

“Leish, Scotty and I seem to play every week, so I’m sure there will be nine holes we’ll be playing there as well,” Smith said.

“I’ll play with the same people, I’m sure I’ll prepare the same and I’m just really looking forward to the event, to be honest.”

Another key driver of Smith’s success is willingness to freely express himself.

His now iconic mullet and moustache are a great example of that but so is his innovation around the golf course.

He puts his past results at The Masters - runner-up in 2020, tied fifth in 2018 and tied tenth in 2021- down to having fun with the challenges that the famous course throws his way.

“I think it just allows me to be creative. It almost brings out my inner kid,” he said. 

“I feel like I can hit some shots around there that you typically don't hit week in, week out and it demands those shots. So yeah, it's just a place that I feel really relaxed on, I feel really comfortable and I feel I play my best golf when I'm being really creative. I think that's why I've had a couple of good finishes there.”

Australian golf fans will be also delighted to hear that Smith is planning a long-awaited trip home this year and that he has his sights set on playing in front of adoring local crowds again.

“I think I'm definitely going to come back throughout the year at some point, say hello to the family I haven't seen yet, and then I'd love to come down and play some golf towards the end of the year as well,” he said.

“I'm going to really look forward to that first meat pie, I think. That's something that they haven't quite figured out how to do over here yet. They do have them, but they just don't taste like home. Yeah, I can't wait to get back there and crack into one of those.” 

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