Date: June 15, 2019
Author: Mark Hayes at Pebble Beach

Gods smile on Smith, finally

He was due a good moment, Cam Smith.

And it came right in the nick of time for his US Open aspirations.

The young Australian, who has had an uncustomarily lean trot on the US PGA Tour in the past three months, could have been mistaken for fearing the worst late in a rollercoaster second round at Pebble Beach today.

Three early bogeys after starting on the 10th left him on the wrong side of the projected two-over cut line before three birdies around the turn gave him breathing space back at even par where he began his round.

A bogey at the fifth was negated by a birdie at the sixth and after a nice tee shot on the eighth, he was beginning to feel like he’d done enough.

But golf wasn’t meant to be easy.

The Wantima ace’s second shot to the long par-four appeared to be rolling to safety up the right side of the green, only to trickle back into sandy trouble.

“I actually didn’t hit too bad a shot in – it was the place to miss it to that pin but it ran up the face, fell back in (to the bunker) and half plugged, then I didn’t have much sand underneath it either,” Smith explained.

“I tried to stay in it (the shot), but I ended up skulling it over the back and all I could do from up there was just try to keep it on the green.

“I did a pretty good job of it, but I missed the putt.”

The resultant double-bogey left him at back at two over, but with light fading, there was the very real possibility that the cut could move to one over and he still had the brutal ninth hole to complete his round.

But Smith, a noted scoreboard watcher who has missed three cuts in his past seven events and not finished inside the top 50 in that time, is nothing if not calm in a tough spot.

“I’ve been in that position a few times of late,” Smith said with trademark cheeky grin. “I was more frustrated than nervous or anxious.”

And he took his frustrations out in the best way possible, bumping a mid-iron 4m past the pin after a booming drive and then calmly rolling a tricky downhill birdie try dead centre to put any cut fears immediately to bed.

“Yeah, that was just the golfing gods giving me one back there. I don’t think too many people would have birdied the ninth today.

“It was a good fight today.

“There was plenty of good, a bit of rubbish at the start. But I hung in there well and knew there were some birdie holes coming up through the turn and that first bit of the front side so just stayed patient and the putts went in.”

Smith, who will play the third round with compatriot and mate Jason Day, said “a couple of rounds in the 60s” will keep him hopeful until late on Sunday.

“Yeah, just a couple under each round because the course is just going to get tougher each day. So I’ve just gotta play those first six or seven nicely and then hang on from there and see what happens.

“They’re the holes to get it done on. The greens are so small around here that you can be off by a millimetre it seems and be shortsided or in a crappy lie, but they’re the holes to have a go at if you can.”