Sydney star amateur Jeffrey Guan, as well as Western Australia’s 17-year-old phenom Joseph Buttress, have been announced as the Cameron Smith Scholarship winners for 2023.
The annual scholarship is a remarkable insight into one of the world’s best golfers, reigning Open champion Smith, who flies two junior golfers from Australia each year to his base in Florida.
Smith won six times on the PGA Tour, including last year’s Open Championship at St Andrews and Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, and now plays on LIV Golf, where he won in his second start last year.
The Cam Smith Scholarship recipients typically stay with Smith in Ponte Vedra, Florida, and observe how the major champion trains and practices. They usually play several rounds with the 29-year-old, while Guan and Buttress will also attend the US Open at LA Country Club.
The Scholarship, created in 2016, was formerly for Queensland juniors but this year awarded nationally for the first time. Past recipients include Jed Morgan and Louis Dobbelaar, both of whom have gone on to win big tournaments on the Australasian tour in recent years.
Other recipients include Billy Dowling, Kai Komulainen, professional Elvis Smylie and Tyler Duncan.
Guan, a two-time national junior champion who plays out of The Australian Golf Club in Sydney, was part of the winning NSW unit at the Australian Interstate Teams Matches last week at St Michael’s Golf Club.
Regarded as one of the best talents to have emerged in Australia for some time, Guan won the Junior Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass last year. He was floored when he heard the news of his selection.
“I was playing a Junior 6’s tournament when Tony (Meyer) from Golf Australia phoned to tell me,” Guan told Golf NSW ” I didn’t know who he was; I thought it was a prank call.”
“Playing the next hole, I was just so shocked. I didn’t know how to process it at first, but I thought it was really cool.
“It had always been awarded to Queenslanders, so when I did find out it was real, I couldn’t keep it to myself, I had to tell my parents.”
Tony Meyer, Golf Australia’s High-Performance Director, said making the Scholarship a national prize was exciting for the game and the development of the sport’s brightest stars.
“We’re delighted that this prestigious Scholarship will be awarded nationally from now,” Meyer said.
“It’s what Cameron wanted, and we’re happy to facilitate that. It’s absolutely appropriate, given his status as a worldwide player and one of the sport’s superstars. We know from past visits that, first of all, the players get so much out of spending time with Cameron, who they all look up to, but we also know that Cameron loves imparting that knowledge.
“It’s part of his DNA that he wants to help others at a stage of their lives when they do need some guidance.’
The Cameron Smith Scholarship began in 2016 when the Queensland superstar broke onto the world scene and gave back some prize money to help promote young players.
It is part of Golf Australia’s Give Back program, where successful professionals agree to surrender a portion of their earnings with specific trigger points to acknowledge the help provided along the way and a means of future-proofing the sport.
Money from the giveback program is funnelled back into elite amateur training programs via the Australian Golf Foundation.
Minjee Lee and Lucas Herbert are among those to have handed back sums. Smith’s contribution since 2018 is through his travel scholarship.