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The 150th Open

Cameron Smith


Home comforts can help end Australia drought

Cameron Smith

Australia is long overdue another winner at The Open and the Old Course might just be the perfect venue to end the drought this week, according to Cameron Smith.

Five-time Champion Golfer Peter Thomson triumphed at the home of golf in 1955 before Kel Nagle edged out Arnold Palmer five years later to also win at St Andrews.

But 29 years have passed since the last Open winner from Down Under was crowned, with Greg Norman lifting the Claret Jug two years after Ian Baker-Finch prevailed in 1991.

Since then there have been a number of near misses, most notably Adam Scott in 2012 while Marc Leishman lost in the three-man play-off the last time The Open was here in 2015.

Yet as one of the form golfers in the world this year, Smith feels quietly confident he can make the most of the firm, fast conditions of the Old Course to win his maiden major.

When asked if this could be Australia’s year at The 150th Open, the 28-year-old said: “Yeah, absolutely. I would say this golf course probably reminds us a little bit of home.

“It's really firm and really fast, which I think the Aussies really enjoy. I think we're going to have a tough time keeping the ball on the fairway this week given how firm and fast and windy it's been.

"A lot of balls have been running off into the rough. So just got to be kind of wary of that. But Leish and Scotty (Adam Scott) were hitting it pretty good today as well. So it should be a good week.”

Cameron Smith swing

Smith comes into the Championship ranked world number 6, having won Sentry Tournament of Champions at the beginning of the season before clinching The Players title.

He also finished tied third at The Masters and T13 at the PGA Championship.

And while it has been almost a decade since Smith last played a competitive round at St Andrews, he believes he has never been better placed to win the Claret Jug.

“I think I've played the best golf of my life this year, for sure. I love the golf course. It would be awesome to win an Open here for sure,” said the Brisbane native.

“I think it's everyone's dream growing up to win an Open at St Andrews. So I don't want to jinx myself, but I'm feeling pretty good. The game feels good.

“I had a good weekend up at the Scottish Open. It was good to see some putts drop and a couple of low numbers over the weekend. So, yeah, hopefully I can get it done.”

Smith’s best Open result to date came in 2019 at Royal Portrush, where he finished in a tie for 20th, but he hopes the lessons he has learned from good friend Leishman will serve him well.

“I've definitely watched him the last day, I guess,” he said. “Leish is so creative, and he's able to hit those shots against the wind, which I think is going to be a really big advantage this week given the firmness of the fairways.

Cameron Smith driver swing

“We played the back nine today, and he was able to hit that little cut into the wind while I was kind of riding the wind and ended up in the rough. Leish was able to hit that cut into the wind.

“He can kind of keep himself on the fairways. So just little things like that. I’m going to go work on that this afternoon, and hopefully he's helped me out.”

He added: “You have to have all the shots out there. There's going to be some pretty ugly spots you get yourself into. Links golf is trying to hit the perfect shot and hoping for the best.”

But even if Smith is crowned Champion Golfer of the Year come Sunday evening, he admits his trademark hairstyle may be here to stay despite promising to cut it off in the past.

“I've always said that if I won a tournament or did something good, I would cut it off. And I've done that a couple times this year, and it's still on there,” he said.

“So I'd like to say I would cut it off, but it's probably not going to happen. I feel like it's almost a part of me now. People recognise the hair and makes a few people laugh. Yeah, it's good.”