Date: February 01, 2008

Dad’s wise words

Angus Morgan at Kingston Heath, Sportal If Wayne Smith had his way, his daughter Kristie would not be leading the MFS Australian Open. She would not even be competing at Kingston Heath this week. In fact, she would not be a golfer at all. It&aposs just as well that Kristie has a mind of her own, otherwise Friday&aposs outstanding second-round 69 at Kingston Heath would never have happened and she would not be in contention to make history as the first amateur to claim the Australian Open title. Wayne Smith made a very decent living in his long career on the Australasian, Asian and European Tours and now fully supports his daughter&aposs drive to become the best golfer she can be. But it wasn&apost always so. “I definitely would have chosen another career for her,” Smith told the media at Kingston Heath on Friday. “I was not against my children playing golf, but I certainly didn&apost encourage them. “It&aposs more to do with lifestyle – I loved being on tour but I quit playing because of my children. “I felt like I never saw my kids growing up and I just wanted to spend some time at home. “I was away 35 weeks of the year and I just didn&apost want to wish that upon my kids, I wanted them to have a normal life. “Somehow both of them have gravitated towards golf.” Smith said it was on a brief stopover in between events at home in Margaret River when Kristie was about 10-years-old that he went to watch his daughter play golf for the first time. “That day when I first saw her, I came home and said to my wife, &aposI think she&aposs a little bit special&apos,” Smith said. “She&aposs got a look in her eye that you can&apost teach somebody. It was obvious straight away, she was a competitor. She didn&apost know what she was doing but you could see she was a competitor. “The last three years, her technique has got so much better with the help of Ian Trigg with the National Squad and hence, she&aposs here.” Smith, who&aposs been caddying for Kristie this week, said the strength of her game is that she doesn&apost have a weakness. As he put it, “she does everything good”. “The big improvement has been in her short game and that&aposs the thing that stands out because now when she misses the green she&aposs more than likely going to get it up and down and that&aposs the area that&aposs really improved in the last year,” he said. “The bigger the occasion, the better she steps up.” Asked if he was surprised that his teenage daughter was leading the Australian Open, Smith replied: “No, not at all, not at all.” “I don t want to put pressure on her, she knows how to keep it under wraps, but she said to me on the putting green today before we went out there, she said, &aposdo you think I can win?&apos I said, &aposabsolutely&apos.” And it&aposs clear the super-confident Kristie believes she can win as well. “Obviously I want to turn pro in the next few years and be the most successful female golfer there is,” she said.