Cameron Smith hit five fairways at Oakmont today – that’s a solid eight or nine fewer than he had in mind.
The resultant tail-chasing 79 was the first time in his burgeoning major championship career that he’d taken body blows from which he couldn’t recover.
Not that T59 at 15 over is a shoddy achievement, far from it.
It’s just that the young Queenslander knows there’s such a fine line between what he dished up today and the swing that catapulted into the global golfing spotlight so dramatically in this tournament a year ago when he finished fourth.
“I didn’t hit the ball as well as I did (earlier in the week) today and around here you can’t get away with that,” Smith said matter-of-factly.
“It was a tough day at the office.
“There’s a premium on hitting fairways out here and I only hit a handful and didn’t make a birdie all day because you can’t get those opportunities.
“I really let myself down with the driver – and a few of the other clubs as well.”
Fully fit for the first time since early April after a debilitating stomach bug that ripped 7kg off his lithe frame, Smith appeared set to charge up the critical FedEx Cup standings when he made the cut and pushed forward in the third round to start his final round at six over.
A bogey on the first was a sign of things to come and when he made double on the second after a couple of visits to the rough, the internal warning bells must surely have sounded.
Six bogeys later, that potential points frenzy had evaporated.
But, as ever, Smith was upbeat afterwards, saying he’d not putted better all year and that better results were just around the corner despite climbing to just 156th on the FedEx charts.
“No, I’m not really worried about that. Next week (on the US PGA Tour) is a US Open-style course as well (Congressional) and if I can hit the ball better off the tee there, I can see myself being up there on the weekend,” he enthused.
“If I can get the driver sorted out, it should fall into place.”
“I love playing stressful golf. I don’t know why, but I do. I putted great, probably the best I have all year after … putting an old favourite putter back in my bag.
“So it’s just a matter of sorting the driver out, that’s all.”
Smith was clearly still positive, safe in the belief that his damaging best is much closer than it has been for months.
And he’s still very proud of his 100 per cent strike rate in making four cuts in his first four major championships.
“I’d like to keep that going for the rest of my career,” he said with trademark grin.