Players’ hero Cameron Smith bounces back from a double-bogey start to pick up EIGHT shots in a 12-hole spree at the Masters… but he finishes as he started to squander the opening-round lead
- Cameron Smith finished his opening round at the Masters at four-under
- The Aussie opened and closed his first round with double bogeys on one and 18
- The 28-year-old carded eight birdies within 12 holes to ultimately shoot a 68
- He could become the second player to win the Players and the Masters in the same season
Only one man has ever won the Players Championship and the Masters in the same season, and the chances of the gutsy Aussie Cameron Smith joining Tiger Woods on that particular pantheon looked slim indeed as he made a hash of the opening hole.
Perhaps it was the sight of Bryson DeChambeau alongside him that caused a man normally so astute when it comes to game management to lose all reason.
He then composed himself with a brilliant run of scoring, but compounded his initial misery by ending his round with a double bogey on the 18th.
Cam Smith had a brilliant run of scoring but ended with a double bogey on the 18th
He started the opening hole with a drive into a fairway bunker and this was followed by a thrash where he was lucky his ball didn’t bury itself in the face.
An equally poor third shot led to a three-putt. Two over after one. The 28-year-old is more ambitious than that.
Still two over par after four holes, he then put together a run of scoring so prodigious it recalled Justin Rose’s last year, when the Englishman played 11 holes in nine under for a 65.
Smith wasn’t far behind, picking up no fewer than eight shots in a 12-hole spree.
He started the 18th six under, but his poor attempt saw him slip to a four-under 68. It was still enough for the early clubhouse lead, however.
Adam Scott remains the only Australian to win the green jacket, but Smith has shown before that he has the game and the nerve to join him.
The Australian 28-year-old picked up no fewer than eight shots in a 12-hole spree
Adam Scott remains the only Australian to win the green jacket (pictured 2013)
Now ranked sixth in the world, Smith finished as runner-up in the November Masters in 2020.
In that event, he became the first man in Masters history to record four rounds in the sixties in the same edition and, consequently, could count himself unlucky not to win.
It was a good day all round for the men in form — the players with big titles to their names already this season.
Playing with Tiger Woods, impressive Chilean Joaquin Niemann showed commendable resilience to cope with the crowd who all had eyes for one man, as he holed his approach shot at the 9th for an eagle two on his way to a first-round 69.
Joaquin Niemann (left) showed commendable resilience playing alongside Tiger Woods (right)
Similarly, new world number one Scottie Scheffler didn’t appear flustered with his new mantle as he stepped up his bid for a fourth title in the space of nine weeks with a 69.
The 25-year-old Texan might have caused plenty of social media chatter at the speed of his rise to the summit, but nobody will be muttering if he continues in this vein — as he birdied the 8th and 9th to begin his move.
At Amen Corner, he followed up a remarkable par at the 11th, where he missed the green badly on the right, by holing from 20ft to birdie the 12th.
Elsewhere, it was another desperate day at Augusta for DeChambeau, for whom this place remains a seemingly insolvable mystery.
Without a top 20 showing in five previous appearances, the 28-year-old gave no indication of improving on that record as he opened with a poor 76.
He admitted in the build-up that he was playing against doctor’s orders, as he recovers from hip and hand problems.
Here he showed that Augusta really isn’t a place for an injured golfer — unless he’s wearing fuchsia, of course, and goes by the name of Tiger.