An emotional reunion with his mother and sister plus his beloved coffee machine are getting Cameron Smith through a weather-interrupted Players Championship.
Smith is in contention at TPC Sawgrass, sitting at six-under-par and just three shots behind leader Anirban Lahiri (nine under).
Tom Hoge and Harold Varner III are tied second at eight under.
Smith posted a 71 on Saturday’s delayed second round and then picked up two shots during his 10 holes of the third round, courtesy of three birdies and a bogey, before darkness suspended.
With inclement weather and storms wreaking havoc on the tee times and schedule at the Players, Smith, who lives only minutes from TPC Sawgrass, said his coffee machine had been put through its paces the past few days.
“At home I can hang out and do my own thing; it’s like I’m having another day off so I’m pretty lucky,” he told Australian Golf Digest in between his second and third rounds on Saturday.
“The coffee machine has definitely been getting a workout; a few early starts with these weather delays and completing rounds from the previous day in the mornings. I was dozing off in the afternoons a few times.”
Added Smith when asked what his handicap would be as a barista, Smith said with a laugh: “A solid 8 … I can’t do latte art. I think you have to be low single digits (as a barista) to do latte art.”
Smith had a poor record at TPC Sawgrass until a tie for 17th last year. But he hopes the company of his mother and sister – over from Australia from the first time in more than two years due to Covid-19 – will inspire him to a victory.
“I hadn’t seen mum in about 2.5 years, basically, so it’s been a long time,” he told AGD. “I picked her and my sister up from the airport. It was quite emotional. My mum and my sister broke down in tears … it’s great to have them here.”
Smith is currently the top Australian while Lucas Herbert (one over) is Smith’s only countryman to have made the 36-hole cut. Jason Day, Cam Davis, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott and Matt Jones all missed the cut.
Earlier on Saturday, Smith kept himself in contention at TPC Sawgrass with a gutsy second-round 71 to improve to four-under-par after a valiant bogey on his last hole.
Smith had taken his score to fiver under through 17 holes before snap hooking his tee shot into the water on the 18th. While an alligator lurked just feet away in the water, Smith took a drop only 110 metres from the tee and still had 285 metres for his third shot into the par 4.
The Queenslander eventually made a 14-foot putt for bogey to salvage an under-par round and to stay in contention at golf’s unofficial fifth Major.
The four-time PGA Tour winner Smith had six birdies and five bogeys in a rollercoaster round that included Smith chipping off the putting surface at the par-5 16th, over the apron, to secure a birdie. He joked that TPC Sawgrass superintendent Jeff Plotts wouldn’t be angry, because he’s a friend.
“I actually know Jeff Plotts pretty well. So I would have texted him and said sorry if I had,” Smith joked with reporters.
He also nearly aced the par-3 13th.