Cameron Smith loves playing in Hawaii, where he won his first individual event on the US PGA Tour in 2020, and he is at it again.
Smith, the Australian Olympian, shot an eight-under par 63 to start the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua resort on Friday to take the first round lead by a shot.
He had two eagles with long putts at the fifth and the 15th along with five birdies and a bogey in his round, despite starting out – in his own words – “terribly” on the day.
Smith has had a nice break at the back-end of 2021 at his American home in Jacksonville, Florida, fishing and chilling, and he came out firing in his first competitive round of the year. A 15-metre eagle putt that dropped at the fifth hole was the beginning of his momentum, and another 12-metre bomb at the 15th gave him another eagle.
“I just needed those two eagles to get a really low one happening,” he said later. “Obviously two really long putts and probably quite fortunate that they went in, but they went in.”
Smith said that while he was disappointed that he could not spend Christmas in Australia, he enjoyed his break. “Yeah, I think six or seven weeks off, a bit of a refresh, I mean, it got really hectic there towards the end of the season last year. I didn’t play a lot through the fall, so it kind of felt like I’ve had a really long break.
“But it’s always good to just be at home and fish and kind of do nothing.”
He leads by a shot from a trio of players including world No. 2 Jon Rahm, but he was not the only one of the five Australians in the field who had good days.
Lucas Herbert, Cam Davis and Marc Leishman all opened with 69s to be tied-13th while Matt Jones (70) is in the mix too. Smith said he anticipated low scores all week.
“The course is really receptive. It’s going to be low scoring all week unless the wind gets up,” Smith added.
“I don’t think that’s meant to be the case so it will probably take three more of those to get the job done.”