He traded in range time for sack time and now Cameron Smith’s shot at 112 years of history remains very much alive after he surged up the leaderboard with the equal best round on day two of the Australian PGA Championship.
Facing the prospect of missing the cut as he began Friday’s round 2-over the card, the two-time defending champion was much sharper mentally, four birdies in the space of five holes around the turn propelling him to a 7-under par round of 65 to sit four shots back of 36-hole leader Yuan Yechun in a tie for seventh.
A brilliant par save from bare turf to the left of the 11th green enabled Smith to carry his momentum into the back nine, picking off birdies at the par-5 12th and 15th holes to complete a bogey-free round and with the chance to equal Dan Soutar’s 112-year-old record of three straight PGA Championship titles, a record that has stood since 1907.
Emotionally exhausted following the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Smith declined his coach Grant Field’s suggestion of time on the range following his opening round of 74, instead getting into the spirit of summer with a mid-afternoon nap and swim at the beach.
“There wasn’t really a discussion. I just said, ‘I’m too tired to do anything. We’ll sort it tomorrow on the range’,” a revitalised Smith said.
“I had a sleep yesterday afternoon, that was probably the best thing I could have done; had a sleep and then went for a swim down the beach.
“Just refreshed the mind a little bit and didn’t do any practice or anything like that. I kind of thought it would be a good idea to kind of get away and forget about it.
“It was tough yesterday. It’s just so draining last week and just so much more attention and stuff like that.
“It’s amazing what a day can do in the game of golf.”
While the birdies take the glory in such a round, Smith didn’t downplay the importance of the up-and-down at 11 where he chipped from bare ground near the trees before making the putt from five feet to remain 5-under for his round.
“That was big, kind of kept me going a little bit,” said the 26-year-old currently ranked 53rd in the world.
“Then didn’t really hit a good drive off the next either and managed to birdie there as well.
“Rounds like that you have to have momentum, it’s what keeps you going. Those five, six-foot putts that go in, they mean a lot more than probably one shot.”
A double bogey at 15 and another dropped shot at 17 saw Kiwi Ryan Fox drop back to 3-under and a tie for 16th but Smith’s masterclass came as no surprise.
“It was always coming. No surprise,” Fox said.
“First round he might have been just a little bit tired and a little bit frustrated with things, but there was enough signs of it yesterday that he could shoot a low one. And obviously he’s a world class player.
“He made it look pretty easy today, to be honest.”
Booked in to watch the Brisbane Heat host the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash at Metricon Stadium on Friday night, Smith looks set to continue the relaxed approach that has served him so well in his previous victories at RACV Royal Pines Resort.
“I’m actually going to the cricket tonight, hopefully see a good game of cricket. Hopefully the Heat wins,” Smith said.
“Probably a couple adult beverages and come back, have a good sleep and be ready to go tomorrow.”