Last summer he was the supporting act who stole the show but mild-mannered Cameron Smith is still unsure about his status as the headliner for the upcoming Aussie summer of golf.
Now ranked 32nd in the world, Smith will play the three-week stretch of the Emirates Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club, the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf alongside Marc Leishman at Metropolitan Golf Club and then defend his Australian PGA Championship crown at RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast.
The impending birth of his third child will keep Jason Day from playing in Australia this year, Adam Scott is taking the summer off after a career spent supporting Australian tournaments, while Leishman will stick to his pledge of never being away from his family for more than two weeks at a time by skipping the Australian Open and playing the World Cup and Australian PGA.
It leaves Smith as the marquee constant yet despite the 25-year-old’s growing status in the game, he’s not altogether comfortable stepping forward to be the poster boy for Aussie golf.
“I really don’t try to think about that stuff,” Smith said ahead of this week’s CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in South Korea. “I’m just really excited to come down to Australia and see everyone and catch up with everyone and play some Aussie golf.
“I haven’t really spent much time at home this year due to playing golf basically. I can’t wait to get back and see everyone and play some Aussie golf.”
Day is currently the highest-ranked Australian at No.12 in the world followed closely by Leishman who moved up to 16th after last Sunday’s win at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
Having started the year ranked 61st in the world, Smith has climbed up to be 32nd and conceivably in position to become Australian golf’s new No.1.
“It would be nice. I tend to set myself some goals to do with the world rankings, not necessarily getting in front of anyone else,” said Smith, who has had four top-five finishes on the US PGA Tour in 2018.
“It would be nice and if I can keep up the hard work I think I can get there.”
The Brisbanite will make his 89th start in a PGA Tour event this week and has already accrued more than $US7 million in prizemoney in four full seasons in the US. With a win alongside Jonas Blixt at the Zurich Classic last year, he has already achieved many of the goals he and coach Grant Field set out but Smith is confident the best is yet to come.
“We were talking about this the other day and my coach asked me whether I thought I would make it this far,” Smith revealed.
“I always thought I could make it this far but I didn’t realise that it would happen this quickly. It’s five years, it’s a long time but it has gone so quickly. You play so many events and you’re working so hard that it feels like it’s not that long at all.
“It’s just gone so quickly and I couldn’t be happier with the progress I’ve made. We’ve kind of stuck to what we know and just little things that can make us better. We haven’t really changed anything up. Just tried to do what we know as best as we can and if we keep our eyes on that the next five years will be exciting.”