The walk from the ninth green to the scoring area is about 100m at Victoria Golf Club.
Cameron Smith made that walk with either side of the path lined two and three deep by the throng of fans who had come to see the world No.3 try, for a second time, and this time unsuccessfully, to make the first-ever Australian Open Saturday cut.
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One seasoned golf watcher declared “this is Shark type stuff” with every fairway lined from tee to green, from his 7am start, like they were in Greg Norman’s golden days, with some even climbing a TV tower to get a glimpse.
It was an eclectic mix of old and new golf fans who have been drawn to the mulleted superstar who conceded he was “a few too many beers deep”, watching the races at Moonee Valley on Friday night, when he realised he’d have tee it up again, and early, having finished his second round on Friday out of contention and confident his 2022 was done.
“I was pretty quick to the pub (after Friday) and yeah and was probably a few too many beers deep and then I realised we had an early tee time,” Smith said, pub trips having been a constant since his return home less than two weeks ago.
“So I got back on the waters and was a good boy the rest of the night.
“I thought I had it in me today and hit lots of good golf shots, and yeah, just couldn’t really capitalise.”
It had been a less than inspiring week on the course from the reigning British Open champion, his third round one-under 69 his only in red figures, and his finish outside the top 50 something rare to him, especially in 2022.
Smith has registered five wins and collected more than $20 million in prizemoney, to go with his estimated $140 million cheque for joining Greg Norman’s LIV golf.
But the joy on his face just for being home, having spent last week at his mum’s house in Brisbane as he won the Australian PGA, made up for his underwhelming Australian Open effort.
“I’ve been busy the last 12 months, so I haven’t really had time to really sit down and actually just think about (his achievements). It’s all kind of been work,” Smith said.
“It will be nice over Christmas to enjoy Christmas with the family again. I’m looking forward to a lazy week, to be honest.”
Fishing is on his plan, but not in the “bigger boat” he treated himself to as a reward for his massive year. That’s at home in Florida.
Time in the gym is also on the agenda. It was a key plank in his ascension to within a whisker of the world No.1 ranking, an achievement now not possible after his LIV move.
But there’s a British Open defence to prepare for still, another tilt at the Masters as well, incentive for Smith to use the “blueprint” he’s established to take his already world-beating game to another level when he starts his 2023 campaign at the LIV Saudi Invitational in February.
“I think I have a tendency to get a little bit lazy at times I think, but I think I just need to do the same things, just better and probably a little bit more often,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to what I can do next year. Hopefully I can keep improving and have plenty of years like this, would be awesome.”