Nap and a swim inspire Cameron Smith in pursuit of Australian PGA history

By Ben Spratt 21 December 2019 4
Nap and a swim inspire Cameron Smith in pursuit of Australian PGA history

Cameron Smith revealed a nap and a swim, rather than practice, proved the solution to his first-day woes as he chases a third straight Australian PGA Championship triumph.

Smith is bidding to join Dan Soutar with a trio of titles in succession, a record that has stood since 1907.

The 2017 and 2018 champion was facing the prospect of missing the cut after Thursday's play, having carded a miserable 74.

Smith, who made his Presidents Cup debut on the losing International team last week, rejected the opportunity to spend some extra time on the range, though, preferring a more relaxed approach going into Friday.

The decision paid off as the equal-best round of the day – a seven-under 65 – moved him into a tie for seventh on five under.

"There wasn't really a discussion [about extra practice]," Smith said. "I just said [on Thursday], 'I'm too tired to do anything. We'll sort it tomorrow on the range'.

"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.

"I 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 [the Presidents Cup] and just so much more attention and stuff like that. It's amazing what a day can do in the game of golf."

However, Smith is still four shots behind leader Yuan Yechun, who matched the home favourite's 65 to build on an opening 70.

An incredible sub-60 round and the chance of beating Ross McGowan's course record of 63 had looked to be on the line for Yuan after playing the front nine in 30, before his form tailed away.

"It was going good at first and I got some fortunate breaks, I have to say that," Yuan said. "It was a great day, honestly. I played great, played smart, stuck to the plan.

"I was fortunate enough that I got a couple of really long putts that dropped through the round. Yeah, I made two little mistakes, but I really pulled myself together and kept it going."

The tournament has seen players turning out in yellow in tribute to the late Jarrod Lyle, just as his fellow professionals had following the Australian's death last year after a long battle with cancer.

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Ben Spratt