Cam’s one concern ahead of 2023 campaign - PGA of Australia

Cam’s one concern ahead of 2023 campaign

Cameron Smith has a lot to live up to in 2023, and he knows it.

Twelve months ago, the now 29-year-old sent a warning shot by taking down then world No.1 Jon Rahm at Kapalua, but not even the most ardent Smith supporters could have predicted what would follow.

THE PLAYERS Champion. The Champion Golfer of the Year. A victor on LIV Golf. A third Fortinet Australian PGA Championship.

He went within a whisker of ascending to the world No.1 ranking and undertook one of the great Claret Jug celebration tours Australia has ever seen.

It’s a hard act to follow, and it starts on Thursday at the Asian Tour’s season-opening PIF Saudi International.

“I think 2022 would be a really tough one to back up,” Smith conceded.

“For sure, just keeping the same processes going, really digging deep, working hard on my game at home is really what I need to do.

“It’s really easy when you’re playing good golf to be kind of complacent.

“Just keeping on top of that, keeping on top of the body, and like I said, just keep working on it.”

After a week working on his game in Dubai, Smith arrived at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club with a top-five finish at the venue a year ago but with a sense of unease on the golf course.

The strong, gusty winds that whip in off the Red Sea have a way of shrinking the short grass players are trying to find off the tee, an area of his game that Smith acknowledges remains a focus for improvement.

“It’s a really tough golf course, I think, off the tee. That’s probably where I struggle the most in my game,” Smith said.

“When it gets a little bit breezy, those fairways become pretty tight, and there’s a couple of shots out there that are really uncomfortable for me.

“I spent a little bit of time today focusing a little bit more on the driver and seeing some shapes and maybe some lower shots with 3-wood and stuff just to get the ball in play.

“You obviously have to play well to win, but you just kind of have to navigate your way around and hole some putts.

“It gets really tricky once it gets windy holing those five, six-footers with some gusty winds.”

As for his extended XXXX-infused Claret Jug celebration tour, Smith couldn’t hide the joy it brought to friends, family and fans.

“It’s been awesome. I’ve taken it everywhere with me,” said Smith, who will defend his title at Royal Liverpool in July.

“Just about every liquid you can put in there, I’ve tried to put in it.

“But it’s been awesome. It’s been fun over Christmas; the family drinking out of it was something I’ll never forget.”

Smith is one of 14 Australians in the field in Jeddah and will begin his first round alongside Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson at 8.15pm AEDT.

Aussies Todd Sinnott and Kevin Yuan are in the first group of the day, teeing off at 3.15pm AEDT.

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