Date: June 19, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes @ US Open

Smith, Scott lead Aussie Open charge

Cameron Smith showed the promise of things to come, leading the Aussie charge along with Adam Scott early in the US Open.

The Queensland duo fired even-par 70s on the severe Chambers Bay layout, but trail joint leaders Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson by five shots.

The other Aussies in the morning pairings were also handy and largely content with their rounds with Marcus Fraser firing a 71, and John Senden and Kurt Barnes each 72.

Smith, 21, who qualified in Ohio last week, looked calm enough early and kept his head with a 40-foot bomb for par on the 11th hole, his second.

A missed birdie chance on 12 was followed by a double-bogey on 13, but the Golf Australia rookie squad member calmly jammed in great approaches on 14 and 15 to right the ship.

“Yeah, I’m pumped. I started off a bit shaky … but a couple of birdies in a row that got the momentum going and held on to it pretty good for the rest of the day,” Smith said.

“I could have let that get to me, but my caddie Dan said, `Just keep at it, it’s a US Open, it happens’.

“Really, you’ve just gotta take it on the chin and keep moving forward (and) I just got on with it and did my stuff the rest of the day.”

Fellow Queenslander Scott, with veteran caddie Steve Williams back on his bag, looked as though he could have found the old magic when he leapt out to two under early.

But despite dropping a shot on his last hole, the ninth, the former world No.1 was happy.

“Even par or better at a US Open is always good – I’m sure I maybe could have found a couple more, but I’m not complaining,” said Scott, who said having the Kiwi back as his caddie was “really good”.

“This is his kind of course and his style. To think it around there it’s a good challenge and I think we are in for a good week.”

Fraser was two over through seven, feeling as though it was the worst score he could be having while playing pretty well.

But a quality birdie on the 10th gave him a measure of justice and he was happy to have finished with a 71.

Senden, similarly, hit back on his inward half (the front nine) and went one under on his final eight holes to also feel good about his round.

Barnes was at his entertaining best, firing four birdies, but handing back four bogeys and a double to join Senden at two over.

Johnson and Stenson were superb in hard and fast conditions.

The twin towers pounded out a combined 13 birdies on a course that many said would yield few.

”My feel and touch were really good today,” Stenson said.

“I made some great long putts and made a couple of 15-20 footers for birdie and holed out nicely. It was a good day on the greens for me.”

Johnson, who made his only bogey on the 9th (his final hole) and even then nearly made a miraculous escape, put his score down to enjoyment of the style of golf required at Chambers Bay.

“I like using my imagination on shots,” he said.

“It's always fun to play courses that are different than what you play every day. I just enjoy playing here. I enjoy playing over at the British. It's golf that I really like to play.”