Adam Scott had seen it before. Twelve months earlier Cameron Smith emerged as the lightning rod that provided the conduit between the boisterous fans at Royal Melbourne Golf Club and the Internationals team attempting to complete the most unlikely victory in Presidents Cup history.
As American captain Tiger Woods provided the impetus for his team to pull in front during the Sunday singles matches, Smith fought back to complete an inspirational win over current world No.2 Justin Thomas.
It wasn’t enough to carry his team to victory but that and his subsequent runner-up finish at The Masters last November has convinced Scott that his fellow Queenslander has a green jacket in his future.
Smith became the only player in Masters history to record four sub-70 rounds last year but it was the way he pushed eventual champion Dustin Johnson – he was just two off the lead with nine holes to play – that impressed Scott most.
“More than anything with the experience and his maturity, he’s got that kind of killer instinct in him when he’s in the hunt,” Scott explained after playing nine holes with Smith at Augusta National on Monday.
“I see it when he plays match play. I saw it at the Presidents Cup.
“Although he was always kind of trailing DJ, he never backed down. He didn’t give DJ much breathing space. DJ still had to play a great round of golf Sunday. It looked like he was always well ahead, but there were moments where if one made and one missed, he was right there.
“Cam is right up for the fight. His game is coming along nicely, performing consistently.
“It would be no surprise if he’s contending again, and if it’s not this year it’ll be another Major this year or next year he could come up and win for sure.”
An unabashed fan of the golf course and the creativity that it both demands and rewards, Smith spent Monday refamiliarising himself with an Augusta National that is significantly firmer than it was five months ago.
Such are the conditions that the five Aussies in the field feel they are all well placed to perform and the 2020 Greg Norman Medal winner has again taken the opportunity to tap into Scott’s past success so that he can too join an illustrious club where a green jacket is the uniform of choice.
“Obviously ‘Scotty’ has been here about 20 years, so he knows a lot more about the course than what I do,” Smith said.
“Pick his brain a little bit here and there, just certain pin locations, where he lays up on par-5s for those pins.
“There’s no real trick around here. You just need to play good golf.
“The course is already so much different to what it was last year, so it’ll be a different challenge, but nonetheless, looking forward to the challenge.”
Booked in to play nine holes with Matt Jones on Wednesday after Jones qualified for his second appearance at The Masters by virtue of his win at The Honda Classic two weeks ago, Scott is cautious not to overload those seeking insights with too much information.
Conceding that after finishing ninth in his Masters debut in 2002 he became caught up in the folklore of how best to play Augusta and didn’t feature in the top 10 again for close to a decade, Scott’s advice to those seeking it is short and sweet.
“Not knowing too much served me well. I just came in and played my game,” said Scott, who was runner-up at The Masters in 2011.
“I assessed the conditions, how I saw them, and I didn’t know that maybe going for the left pin on 1 is the end of your tournament or something like that, and got away with it. I was playing well but got away with it.
“It’s not a bad thing to not pollute a first-timer’s mind with, ‘Don’t hit it here or you’ll never recover’. That kind of stuff you don’t need to hear.
“Maybe there’s a pointer or two that could be helpful but really I wouldn’t try and influence a first-timer too much on how they play.
“You’ve got to develop your own level of comfort. I don’t know anyone else’s game that good to tell them how to play.”