A red hot Cameron Smith increased his lead over the elite field at the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii today, equalling a tournament record in the process.
Smith held the first-round lead after a 65 on Thursday but quickly handed it back with bogeys at the first two holes at Kapalua Resort on the island of Maui when day two began – one from a greenside trap at the first and then with a three-putt at the second.
But the Queenslander is not one to be flustered, and he quickly rallied with an eagle from 12 metres at the par-five fifth, catching fire afterward. By the time he birdied the last four holes of the day, closing it out with a two-putt from long range for four at the par-five 18th, he had shot 64.
He had added nine birdies to his eagle and his 17-under total equalled the tournament 36-hole record set by Ernie Els in 2003.
Tomorrow he will go head-to-head with world No.1 Jon Rahm, who is at 14-under par, three shots behind and in the final grouping. American Daniel Berger also is three back from Smith, whose initial win as an individual on the PGA Tour was also in Hawaii at the Sony Open in 2020.
The tournament has a $US8.2 million prize pool.
Smith said he had not been concerned about his start today.
“I had to hit the reset button and start all over,” he said.
By the time he picked up shots at the fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth, he was rolling, pushing home the advantage with a stunning, back-nine of 31.
“I felt as though I was seeing all the putts go in,” he said. “Just stepping over it and hitting good putts. It came pretty easy to me today.”
Fellow-Olympian Marc Leishman was among those admiring Smith’s play.
“He’s got every part of the game,’’ said Leishman, who is in the mix himself. “His short game and putting in particular is outstanding and he’s got that easy-going attitude that you need as a golfer.”
Leishman birdied six of the last seven holes on his way to a 67 and is tied-eighth through 36 holes.
Matt Jones (67) and Cam Davis (68) also are playing nicely, inside the top 20, while Lucas Herbert shot 73 today and is well back in the field.