AUGUSTA, Ga. — Cameron Smith was quoted the other day as saying he felt almost like an awestruck patron watching Tiger Woods — from the group directly in front of him — as the 46-year-old five-time Masters champion broke par on one leg in the first round.
Mr Smith will not take on the role of Augusta National viewer on Sunday. He plays in the finals’ bottom group with world number one Scottie Scheffler, who is three shots clear of the 28-year-old Australian, who is sixth.
On a cold and blustery day that saw players, fans, reporters and club officials freeze their jaws in this theater, Smith hit the best score of the round, a 4-under 68 for a 54-hole total of 6-under. 210 to create what looks like a two-man race.
“It was really tough out there today,” Smith said. “I think I’ve done a good job of just staying within myself and being patient on the course.”
And the hardest part of playing golf at the Augusta National in Buffalo Bills’ off-season weather?
“Keep my hands warm,” Smith said. “I’ve had hand warmers on all day but I don’t think they helped to be honest. It was brutal.”
But not brutal enough to stop last month’s Players Championship winner from putting some pressure on Scheffler, whose mishap on the 18th put Smith a shot closer to the lead. Though he hasn’t won a Major, Smith has two top-five finishes at the Masters, including a tie for second place behind Dustin Johnson in the 2020 tournament delayed by the pandemic and a top-five finish at the 2015 US Open. He should Scheffler, who already has three Tour victories this season, pose a huge challenge.
What does Smith need to become the second Australian (Adam Scott, 2013) to win the green jacket?
“Probably shoot the lowest score out there again tomorrow,” he said. “No, I think preparation. I think it won’t be that windy tomorrow. Typically on a Sunday here, especially on the back nine, you can use a lot of greens to your advantage and have a lot of birdie opportunities. Again, just stay aggressive into the greens and just keep hitting quality shots.”
While playing at Augusta National, a course that challenges an artist’s creativity, Smith said he “feels like a big kid here. You hit it pretty crazy on some shots and there’s nothing quite like it anywhere.”
Although taking down Scheffler on a Masters Sunday will be the biggest challenge of Smith’s career, he believes the Players Championship win will help take him from tee to green.
“It just means I can do it when I’m up against the best guys in the world,” Smith said. “It’s a good feeling. It’s deserved. It is not given to you.
“So tomorrow I need to get out and play some really good golf again, probably similar to today. Hopefully everything just fits.”
https://nypost.com/2022/04/10/masters-2022-cameron-smith-thrives-in-brutal-conditions/ Cameron Smith thrives in ‘brutal’ conditions