Cameron Smith is in that rarest of golfing space and after a “nuts” year is running with a confidence that he can win anywhere, and that could include this week’s Australian Open.
Geoff Ogilvy was on hand at Royal Queensland to watch Smith’s Sunday surge to win the PGA Championship by three shots despite losing the outright lead midway through the round and enduring two breaks for bad weather.
It was the Queenslander’s fifth victory in 2022, a haul that included setting a scoring record in Hawaii in January and moved Ogilvy, the 2006 US Open champ, to declare his countryman has had one “of the best years in golf”.
But it’s been the fashion more than the results for the world No.3 that has moved Ogilvy, who finished tied for 18th behind Smith at the PGA, to suggest he’s in the perfect headspace to make it a repeat in this week’s Open.
“Certainly his record this year is nuts and he’s got the respect of the golf world,” Ogilvy said at Victoria Golf Club on Monday.
“What he did at St Andrews was pretty amazing. And what he did at Sawgrass, and what he did at Kapalua, like all three were really impressive wins. He didn’t fall into them, he won them.
“Nobody keeps up that sort of level. Well, Tiger did but even he had his ups and downs and his peaks and troughs if you like, but he’s (Smith) obviously in a really great vein … I assume he’ll keep it up for a while.
“He’s in a really great run of form and he’s capitalising and winning big tournaments and doing it really well. I mean, just evidenced by last week.
“It was, if you’re not in the form that he’s in, like Sunday’s going like it did around the turn … you just don’t win. But he just turned around and ended up winning by three in the end with it looking at a bit rough with about seven or eight holes to play.
“It’s just it’s where he’s at in his head and he’s really confident and didn’t get rattled by being tied for the lead again … made birdies at the right holes at the right time and hit the right shots and off he goes and wins and that’s what Tiger used to do.
“That’s a confidence thing more than anything else and he’s capitalising on good form, which is impressive.”
But for all that praise, Ogilvy, who as an assistant captain at this year’s Presidents Cup missed the services of Smith after his move to LIV golf, said world No.1 Rory McIlroy was, in his view, the best player in the world right now.
“It‘s very hard to measure golfer against golfer. I’d probably pick Rory if you wanted to ask me who was the best golfer right now” he said.
“But Cam won the Players Championship this year, he won the Open Championship this year, he broke the scoring record of the Tournament of Champions.
“So, he’s had as good a year as anybody (and) he’s got a very good argument to say that he was the best golfer in the world this year. Absolutely.”