The National Times - Aussie Smith ready to contend again at the Masters

Aussie Smith ready to contend again at the Masters

Aussie Smith ready to contend again at the Masters
Aussie Smith ready to contend again at the Masters

Cameron Smith has shown he has the game for Augusta National, and with two US PGA Tour titles under his belt this year he could be set for a major breakthrough at the Masters.

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The 28-year-old Aussie with the distinctive mullet haircut out-dueled world number one Jon Rahm to win the US PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in record-setting style in Janaury.

In March he bagged the prestigious Players Championship title in a convincing victory that displayed the putting prowess that is vital to success at Augusta.

"I think my game is already there," Smith said. "The Players was a nice box to tick.

"But I feel as though I can compete with anyone in any given week."

He's shown he can contend at Augusta, finishing in the top 10 in three of his last four appearances.

That includes his runner-up finish to Dustin Johnson in 2020, when Smith became the first player to break 70 in all four rounds of the Masters.

"I think it's just my creativity," he said Monday of his record at Augusta National.

"I feel like I play my best golf when I'm creative. And this course has so many slopes and stuff, you can work it off the greens firm and fast. And, yeah, I just love being creative.

"I'm not afraid to hit different shots around here. I think it can be very hard to hit the shot that you want to hit because if it doesn't come off, you could be in some pretty deep trouble.

"I'm not afraid to do that. I want to hit the right shot, and I want to get it close."

While Smith is seeking to become just the second Australian, after Adam Scott, to win the green jacket, he said it was playing the Sandbelt courses around Melbourne that helped him develop a game suited to Augusta National.

"Reminds me a lot of (Royal) Melbourne. You hit a lot of putts from inside 15 feet where you're aiming four and five feet outside the hole.

"It's kind of nice to have that in the back pocket."

Smith hasn't played a tournament since his Players Championship win, preferring to work on some aspects of his game and catch up with his parents and sister, who were finally able to make it to the United States after two years of Covid travel restrictions.

Even so, the laid-back Smith's intentions for the coming week were clearly anything but low-key.

"I feel pretty hungry," Smith said. "This is a pretty good time of the year to be playing good golf."