BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) — Cameron Smith choked back tears after missing the cut by nine shots at the Australian PGA Championship on Friday, describing it as his worst day as a professional golfer.
On a blustery day in which Curtis Luck lived up to his name by firing a hole-in-one, defending champion and former world number two Smith slumped to a horror 78.
It left him nine-over-par and 21 shots behind halfway leader Min Woo Lee in front of his home crowd at Royal Queensland Golf Club in Brisbane.
Asked if he could remember a day as bad as this, the 2022 British Open champion Smith told reporters: “No.”
“No words. I’ve performed under pressure before and it’s not acceptable. It’s very upsetting, actually,” said the 30-year-old.
“I hope I can get it together for next week and put on a better show than that,” he added, referring to the Australian Open in Sydney.
Now playing on the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour, the Australian struggled for control off the tee to make just one birdie, with a double bogey at the 10th and a bogey at the last summing up his day.
In contrast, compatriot Lee rattled off six birdies against one bogey in a five-under-par 66 to be 12-under for the tournament after round two at the opening event of the DP World Tour’s 2024 season.
Veteran Adam Scott went one better with a 65 to be a shot adrift as he targets a 32nd title of his career.
“Really happy with the way I went, very solid and doing the right things today,” said Lee, who is chasing a third win on the European circuit following victory at the 2020 Vic Open and Scottish Open a year later.
He commiserated with countryman Smith.
“It’s golf, that happens and next week I’m sure he’s going to bounce back, it’s what good players do,” he said.
Lee will be grouped on Saturday with Scott, who won the title in 2013 and 2019 and is in good late-season form after finishing fifth at the US PGA Tour’s Bermuda Championship this month.
“It’s always nice to have a bogey-free round, I probably haven’t had many of them this year,” said the Australian Scott, who is winless since early 2020.
“I feel like my swing from the tee to the green is feeling better than it has for a while and that’s a nice thing for me.”
Another Australian, John Lyras, is a shot further back, one clear of Spain’s Joel Moscatel, Lucas Herbert and Luck, who lived up to his name by acing the par-three 17th en route to a 67.