Shepparton News

Fully-fuelled and right to go



Mentally refreshed and physically primed, Cameron Smith is champing at the bit to kick-start his US PGA Tour season.

But the understate­d Australian No.1 isn’t making any bold promises, despite cementing his place in the world’s top 30 and emerging as a genuine majors contender in a record-setting past 12 months.

In a spectacula­r 2020-21 season, Smith became the first player in Masters history to shoot four rounds in the 60s in finishing runner-up to Dustin Johnson in November and then placed in the top 10 at Augusta National once more in its traditiona­l April timeslot.

He needed only 18 putts, the fewest in PGA Tour history, during the second round of the WGC St Jude Invitation­al and shattered the course record with an 11-underpar 60 at the Northern Trust Open Open in August.

Throw in a second victory at the Zurich Classic teams’ event, this time with countryman Marc Leishman in May and a runner-up showing at the second FedExCup play-off event last month and last season was a ripper for Smith.

Next step, presumably, is winning his maiden major, not that the 28-year-old would ever so say publicly.

‘‘I’ve never really been one to really think about that stuff. I’ve always been kind of a process-goal guy,’’ Smith said before the CJ Cup starting in Las Vegas today.

‘‘That’s how I’ve kind of taken my career on, I guess, just take off all the little stuff at home and make sure I keep making myself better every day and I believe that the results will come.’’

The two-time Australian PGA Championsh­ip winner is at least publicisin­g his immediate goal after recharging the batteries in the wake of his jaded finish to last season at the Tour Championsh­ip in Atlanta.

‘‘I’m obviously here to try and compete and hopefully at the end of the week have a trophy,’’ Smith said.

‘‘My body was getting a little bit worn out there towards the end of the season, just a little bit tired.

‘‘But I’m definitely feeling excited to be back on the golf course again.

Through that last period of the season, it can get pretty overwhelmi­ng.

‘‘I just want to be back out here, so it’s a nice feeling to have because probably towards the end of the season that wasn’t the case.’’

Joining Smith in the 78-man field for the no-cut four-round event at The Summit Club are fellow Australian­s Jason Day, also in his first start of the new season, Leishman, Adam Scott, Matt Jones and Cam Davis.

The stacked field includes seven of the world’s top 10 players — and 36 of the top 50.

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