CAMERON SMITH

AIM­ING TO BE THE BEST

Inside Golf - - Front Page - David New­bery david@in­sid­e­golf.com.au

YOU get the im­pres­sion the name Cameron Smith will one day be syn­ony­mous with golf­ing suc­cess.

The 21-year-old pro­fes­sional is a rapidly ris­ing star in the pro­fes­sional ranks with lofty am­bi­tions and a de­ter­mi­na­tion to match.

One of his strengths is men­tal tough­ness and it seems noth­ing will hold him back.

The Bris­bane na­tive had a stel­lar rookie year win­ning more than $400,000 last year cour­tesy of seven top-10 re­sults in­clud­ing a fifth place at the CIMB Clas­sic – an Asian Tour event co-sanc­tioned with the US PGA Tour.

The Asian Tour mem­ber is hop­ing for much of the same with a win or two along the way.

Inside Golf caught up with Smith re­cently to find out what makes him tick. You’ve been a pro for one year – what have you made of the jour­ney so far?

It’s been good, but very dif­fer­ent to be­ing an am­a­teur. There’s a lot of trav­el­ling and meet­ing and play­ing with dif­fer­ent peo­ple. What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween pro and am­a­teur golf?

The com­pe­ti­tion is so much stronger and the trav­el­ling is chal­leng­ing. (After fin­ish­ing fifth at the CIMB Clas­sic in Malaysia, Smith trav­elled 15,870 kilo­me­tres to Jack­son, Mis­sis­sippi to play in the Sanderson Farms Cham­pi­onship. It took him 27 hours to get there). What’s the hard­est thing about be­ing a pro?

For me, it’s try­ing to be bet­ter or­gan­ised be­cause I am not very good at it yet, but I think I will get there.

How have you dealt with the chal­lenges?

I have a good team around me so that helps. I have my coach Grant Field, man­ager Ian Davis, trainer Nick Ran­dall and all the guys at Golf Aus­tralia have re­ally helped me. It’s been nice to have them there. I don’t think I could have done it with­out them, re­ally.

What has been the big­gest change you’ve made since turn­ing pro?

Prob­a­bly my at­ti­tude to do­ing the hard work. I was a lit­tle laid-back. I didn’t treat golf as the most im­por­tant thing, but now it def­i­nitely is be­cause it’s my job.

What’s your sched­ule for 2015?

I have a few in­vites to play events on the US PGA Tour and I am hop­ing for a few more. Other than that, it’s the same as last year, play­ing the co-sanc­tioned tour­na­ments be­tween the Asian and Euro­pean tours. I’ll also be play­ing a few Asian Tour events and hope­fully I can come back and play the Aus­tralian events at the end of the year be­cause I love play­ing them. What tour­na­ments will you play on the US PGA Tour?

The Farm­ers In­surance Open at Torrey Pines and the Zurich Clas­sic in New Or­leans.

With whom do you en­joy play­ing golf?

My dad, my un­cle and the guys back at Wan­tima Golf Club. I love play­ing golf with them when I’m home. On the pro tour, I en­joy play­ing with Jake Hig­gin­bot­tom,

Nathan Hol­man and all the younger Aus­tralian guys on the Asian Tour. We know each other well and are good mates. If you could in­vite three fel­low golfers to lunch and share a round with, who would they be?

Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. What is the strength of your game and what ar­eas are you try­ing to im­prove?

I’d like to think my shorter irons and my wedge game is a strength. You can al­ways im­prove on putting, so I am try­ing to do more work on my putting. My driv­ing and lon­g­iron play will im­prove as my strength im­proves so I am try­ing to do that as well. You turned pro at 20. Was that the right age for you?

It’s hard to ad­mit, but I think I turned pro too late be­cause you learn so much more when you are a pro­fes­sional. If I had my time over again I would def­i­nitely turn pro a bit ear­lier to learn and ex­plore as much as I can by pick­ing peo­ple’s brains. You def­i­nitely learn a lot more on the pro tour and you learn more about your­self as well when you are in a ho­tel room alone. You played with cham­pi­ons Brian Lara, Natalie Cook and Guy Leech at the PGA pro-am. What did you learn from them?

A lot. It was an awe­some day and I def­i­nitely had my head filled with valu­able in­for­ma­tion. What is the best ad­vice you’ve been given?

Ev­ery­one tells me to work hard. As sim­ple as it sounds, it’s prob­a­bly the best ad­vice.

Is be­comin­git true you’ve world set num­bery­our sight­sone? on

be Yes, happy.I have. If I ever get there, I will What’son a golf one course?thing that dis­tracts you

The wind. Is win­ning the Aus­tralian Am­a­teur your ca­reer high­light so far?

Yes, it’s up there. Have you re­ceived ad­vice from Aus­tralia’s ex­pe­ri­enced pros about what to ex­pect on tour?

No one has re­ally of­fered ad­vice other than my coach (Grant Field). What’s the best thing about be­ing Cameron Smith the golfer?

I like to think I am an out­go­ing per­son and I am happy to have a chat with any­one. Grow­ing up, how im­por­tant was sport in your house­hold?

It was im­por­tant. We were al­ways at the golf course or the footy fields. Dad used to play in­door cricket and touch foot­ball so I have been around sport all my life.

How did you get started in golf?

I was three when dad took me down to Wan­tima golf course. Dad is a good golfer and plays off scratch or one. How long did it take you to reach a sin­gle-fig­ure hand­i­cap?

I was prob­a­bly around 10. Grow­ing up, how were you able to com­pete against much older kids?

I had a handy short game so older kids’ length didn’t bother me that much. How much of a men­tal game is golf?

Heaps. My dad has al­ways told me some days are di­a­monds and some days are rub­bish and that’s how it is with golf. There’s noth­ing you can do about it. That’s my ap­proach ev­ery day. How would you de­scribe your sense of fash­ion?

I think I dress okay, but I would say old-fash­ioned.

How strict are you with your diet?

I was quite bad, but I am get­ting bet­ter with it. What is the most un­usual train­ing you’ve done?

Climb­ing up and down sand dunes in Mel­bourne. It was tough, but it was a good work­out. If you could swap places with some­one for one day – who would it be?

Adam Scott. What would sur­prise us about your golf game?

Some­times I may hit a bad shot, but ev­ery­one does that.

Is there a rule of golf you dis­like?

I have al­ways thought you should drop out of a divot in the fair­way.

Do you have any hob­bies?

I like hang­ing out with friends and try­ing to build stuff. I am not very good at it, but I try to build things that need build­ing. If you can’t buy it, I’ll build it.

How many aces have you had?

Two – one at Ni­a­gara Falls Coun­try Club in Amer­ica and the other was in Turkey.

What’s your favourite golf course?

Oak­mont Coun­try Club in

Pitts­burgh. •

For­mer Aus­tralian Iron­man Guy Leech, Olympic beach volleyball gold medal­list Natalie Cook and for­mer West Indies crick­eter

Brian Lara joined Cameron Smith (sec­ond from right) on the tee at the Aus­tralian PGA Cham­pi­onship pro-am.

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