There was loads of time to stew if Smith wished. Paul Casey’s withdrawal as a result of again points left Smith and DeChambeau a twosome caught between a pair of threesomes, together with one that includes Tiger Woods (-1).
Yet through the lengthy lags in play, Smith saved it unfastened, largely chatting with caddie Sam Pinfold in regards to the Brisbane Broncos, Smith’s hometown NRL crew. Anything however the job forward. Besides, he has grown snug among the many Georgia pines, by no means lacking a lower in 5 begins and placing collectively a runner-up end to Dustin Johnson in 2020.
“I love this place,” Smith stated. “I think my short game has definitely got me out of a lot of bad spots around here, but at the end of the day I think you just need to give yourself opportunities. You need to hit your irons close, and you need to be really good with the putter.”
For about two hours in the course of his spherical, Smith did each whereas placing collectively eight birdies in a stretch of 12 holes.
A chip-in from off the inexperienced on the par-four fifth supplied a welcome jolt. His iron on the par-three sixth landed a foot from the opening. A wedge to inside 5 ft on the ninth helped him make the flip at two-under. Birdies at 12, 14, 15 and 16 pushed him to six-under and the lead earlier than a tee shot that drifted proper on the 18th blunted his momentum. A punch out, a wedge that got here up quick and three putts gave him a double bogey to bookend the one on the first.
He deliberate to work out any lingering angst by spending half-hour on a stationary bike again on the home he’s renting. Then possibly whip up a meal — he made some spaghetti bolognese on Wednesday — and chill out.
Sure, he may have posted a quantity for the remainder of the sector to catch. He didn’t fairly get there, however he is aware of he’s in stable place heading into what might be a blustery weekend that may have the mullet his barber simply cleaned up fluttering from beneath his hat in all its shabby-chic glory.
About the hair. It’s develop into a part of his id as a lot as his more and more spectacular performances, a lot in order that hall-of-famer Gary Player — who picked Smith to win his first main this weekend — wonders what may occur if Smith finds himself in Butler Cabin late Sunday night.
“I’d love to see how he’s accepted with that long hair in the clubhouse,” Player stated. “They might tell him to have a haircut.”
Or possibly not. The participant that Player known as “cocky” in one of the best ways potential has no drawback going towards conference.
“He’s confident, which you’ve got to be, and he’s one hang of a putter,” Player stated about an hour earlier than Smith teed off. “It’s not going to surprise me, he’s not going to come in here and be overawed, as many players will be. He’ll be in there with a good chance to win.”
He’s on his manner.
So is Woods, who had his recreation face on as he walked out to the primary tee the place the complete size of the par-four 445-yard opening gap was lined with 1000’s of spectators.
After 5 consecutive pars, Woods practically aced the par-three sixth gap the place his tee shot stopped two ft from the cup to arrange his first birdie which was adopted by his first bogey on the eighth.
Even par getting into Amen Corner, Woods made it by means of the notorious stretch of holes unscathed, selecting up his second birdie at 13.
That was adopted by one other bogey at 14 however the sixteenth supplied classic Woods as he rolled in a monster 29-foot birdie putt and celebrated with a trademark fist pump.
He completed with 71. Incidentally, the typical first-round rating of Woods’ 5 Masters wins: 70.8.
Catch all of the motion from Augusta National on GEM and 9Now from 5am Thursday-Saturday and 4am Monday. We’ll even be stay running a blog the ultimate spherical at smh.com.au/sport on Monday morning.