Cameron Smith caught the eye on his return to Australia and, in an ominous warning to his rivals, says he has rediscovered his touch from the tee.
The world No. 3 and Open Championship winner is one behind leader Jason Scrivener who will enter the third round of the Australian PGA Championship in Brisbane on Saturday.
Seven others, including Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura who will join Smith and Scrivener in Saturday’s final group, are hiding two shots away.
Two bogeys on Friday at the tricky Royal Queensland Golf Club left Smith chasing the West Australian, who is seeking his first win since 2017.
“I only had a few bogeys, both on par threes, which isn’t really a good sign most of the time,” he said.
“But I felt like I hit my driver the best I could, like I have for a very long time, so it was good to do that.
“It gives me a bit of confidence going into the weekend.”
In 2018, he beat a PGA field that included Masters champions Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia at Royal Pines in the Gold Coast, then defended his title a year later in a Sunday shootout with Marc Leishman.
Smith, back after a three-year absence, has four wins this year alone and has rewarded the thousands who have lined the fairways so far to position themselves for another.
“Obviously a lot has changed in three years, it really wasn’t,” Smith said of his hero’s reception.
“It looked like there were three or four on either side of the fairway all day.
“My old boy was complaining about me yesterday saying he couldn’t watch me play golf (because he couldn’t see through the masses).”
The Claret Jug holder reckons it’s his first Joe Kirkwood Cup lifter of 2018 that will get him this weekend.
“That first on the (Gold) Coast definitely helped a lot for my confidence, knowing that I could kind of do it on Sunday,” he said.
“It was something I really hadn’t done until then so it was kind of fun to do and I had a really good 2018 and just played really solid golf.
“It was a massive, massive confidence booster for everything.”
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