Cam Smith pumped for PGA Championship berth

by admin
Cam Smith pumped for PGA Championship berth

Smith has arrived in Louisville firmly believing he can claim a second major championship after steely showings at the Masters and LIV Golf Singapore, despite battling illness and injury.

The one-time World No.2 tied for sixth at Augusta National even while playing with the flu, then finished runner-up behind defending PGA champion Brooks Koepka last start after carrying a hip injury into the opening round.

Smith says he’s now back to full health and firing on all cylinders again as he prepares to tackle the Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club for the first time.

“Everything feels good. Game feels great,” he said ahead of Thursday’s start.

“I feel like it’s just been improving this whole year basically and, yeah, I’m pumped and ready for this week.”

The cream has traditionally risen to the top at Valhalla, as evident by Rory McIlroy’s victory a decade ago and Tiger Woods saluting in 2000 en route to completing the fabled “Tiger Slam”.

A short-game wizard, Smith relishes such challenges and hopes one of golf’s ultimate tests can yield another major to go with his 2022 Open triumph at St Andrews when he surged past McIlroy down the stretch.

“I’ve only managed to play the first nine so far. We’ve got a little weather here today, so I’ll go see as much of the course as I can today,” he said.

“I haven’t been around here yet, so there will be a ton of stuff to go over the next couple of days.

“It’s in great shape and it’s tough. It’s probably going to be a long week, if you look at the forecast this week. There’s going to be a few early mornings.”

As usual for the historically gruelling major, finding fairways will be crucial for those wanting to have their names etched on the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday.

“The rough doesn’t seem that long, but it’s just really dense, it’s quite patchy,” Smith said.

“So it’s hard to say whether it’s a good or a bad thing. Obviously coming off the fairways will be far easier.

“But I think the course is going to soften up a lot and be a bit easier to hit those fairways and easier to hit the greens. It will just be a long week.”

“I feel like it’s just been improving this whole year basically and, yeah, I’m pumped and ready for this week.” – Cam Smith.

Smith is among six Australians trying to prevent Koepka from joining Woods as a four-time PGA Championship winner, or denying rampant World No.1 Scottie Scheffler a fifth victory from his past six starts.

Jason Day, the 2015 winner and 2016 runner-up, is also feeling upbeat after sharing fourth behind McIlroy at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship.

Like Smith, Min Woo Lee enjoyed his best PGA Championship result last year and tied for 22nd at the Masters despite playing with a broken finger.

Veteran former World No.1 Adam Scott will mark his incredible 91st consecutive major appearance by playing alongside Woods for the first two rounds.

A supreme driver, Cameron Davis showed with a tie for 12th at Augusta and joint-fourth last year at Oak Hill that he has the game to contend on golf’s biggest stages.

And Lucas Herbert is back for a fifth PGA Championship crack after being one of seven LIV Golf stars invited.

Rounding out an eight-strong Antipodean contingent are PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner Kazuma Kobori and fellow Kiwi Ryan Fox.

– Darren Walton

© Golf Australia. All rights reserved.

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