Having barely survived on Friday after mixing four birdies with five bogeys, Cameron Smith has been sent packing early from the Australian Open in front of a packed crowd in Melbourne.
It marks the final time Smith will feature for the year after a whirlwind period which has seen him become a cult hero on the way to claiming the British Open and climbing up to No.3 in the world rankings.
The pre-tournament favourite – who has five titles to his name in 2022 – was hoping to become the first golfer to claim the PGA and Australian Open double since Greg Chalmers achieved the feat over a decade ago.
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Yet his hopes appeared to go up in smoke on both Thursday and Friday, before he was finally eliminated on Saturday after a new cut was introduced of the top 30 players to allow for enough fairway space for the women’s event being staged at the same time.
Smith’s sluggish display was far removed from his triumphant Brisbane homecoming a week earlier, where he snared a third Australian PGA Championship.
He was unable to reach anywhere near the same levels of performance as two lacklustre opening rounds – where he shot a one-over par 71 followed by another one-over – was backed up with a third round one-under 69 which wasn’t enough to spare him from the cut.
“I thought I had it in me today and hit lots of good golf shots, and yeah, just couldn’t really capitalise,” he admitted.
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Smith was far less positive the day before though, when he attributed his poor stroke play to fatigue.
“That was pretty rubbish,” he said.
“I was just really uncomfortable all day, kind of similar to yesterday. I just couldn’t quite hit the ball out the middle of the club face for some reason.
“My mind was a little bit foggy, obviously a little bit tired as well.”
That trend, unfortunately for Smith, continued on into Saturday as he was unable to find his groove.
His shock exit coming in the wake of his bullish assessment before the tournament began about how he wanted to claim the trophy for the first time.
“I haven’t won one of these yet and this has been on my radar now for a long time,” he said.
“I’ve been close a few times and haven’t quite got it done, so no better week than to win one in Melbourne.”
In the end, Smith cut a dejected figure on the fairways with the promise of an extended break suddenly appealing to the golfer who has enjoyed an otherwise wildly successful year.
“I’m looking forward to four or five weeks off and just kind of mentally reset,” he confessed.
“I think the brain has been going pretty hard the last few months, so it’d be a good time to sit down on the beach somewhere and have a few margaritas.”