Cameron Smith on mullets, drinking beer and why he's a main Masters contender
His record at Augusta National is impressive. He’s made the cut in all five of his previous appearances, including two top 10s and a runner-up finish in 2020. That year, he secured a place in the event’s history by becoming the first player to shoot in the 60s in all four rounds.
On this occasion, Smith is coming into the season’s opening major in hot form. He won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January before adding The Players Championship at Sawgrass last month.
Adam Scott, who achieved the feat in 2013, is the only Australian to have won the season’s opening major, but Smith has good reason to be feeling quietly confident about his chances on this occasion.
“I think it’s just my creativity,” replied the 28-year-old to being asked what it was about this place that can bring out the best in him. “I feel like I play my best golf when I'm creative. And this course has so many slopes and stuff that you can work it off. Reminds me a lot of Sandbelt golf at home. Yeah, I just love it.”
Scottie Scheffler may be the hottest player in the game right now, having recently become the new world No 1 on the back of three wins in quick succession, including the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin. But Smith, now a five-time PGA Tour winner, is another player on an upward trajectory.
“I feel pretty hungry mate,” he said to being asked how he was feeling at the start of the major season. “Pretty good time of year to be playing good golf. You know, it's just nice to contend. Still been working hard the last couple of weeks at home and I really can't wait to get back out here this week.
“I've had three weeks off after The Players. Yeah, just ready to compete. I feel like my game hasn't done too much over the last few weeks. Just hitting a few balls here and there and focusing on the short game for around here.”
Having won the game’s so-called fifth major at Sawgrass, does he feel he’s ready to take that next big step? “Yeah, I think so,” said the world No 6. “I think my game is already there. The Players was nice to tick that box, I guess. But I feel as though I can compete against anyone in any given week.”
Only Tiger Woods, who did the trick in 2001, has landed The Players and The Masters in the same year. “It would be nice,” said Smith of the potential to do that double. “To have your name up against his is pretty neat.”
Like lots of others, Smith is excited about the prospect of five-time Masters champion Woods, who came close to losing his right leg in a car crash around 14 months ago, making a sensational return this week.
“I think he just inspired everyone to get out - he made golf cool,” said Smith of the American’s impact on the game. “He made me want to go out and hit different shots and be creative.
“It would be massive (if he played this week). Obviously he's had a bit of an extended rest. I'm sure he's dying to get out here and start competing again. He's like the rest of us; he's a competitor and he wants to be out here and, you know, taking people down. So it would be good to see.”
It seems as though Smith’s mullet is here to stay. Even his mum has taken to it. “I think she’s coming round to it slightly,” he said, smiling, when that was mentioned in his pre-event press conference.
It also included some beer talk, which might even have been a first for this event. “I wouldn’t say I drink a whole lot,” he replied to that a question related to him partying. “I definitely love a beer with the boys on the weekend or something like that. But, during the week I keep it pretty tidy. It's all business during the week and a few beers on the boat during the weekend.”
As you’d expect, his favourite swally is Australian. “I love a XXXX Gold,” he added. “That's probably my favourite. My favorite American beer would be Longboard Lager. Hawaiian, but it's American.”
In comparison to Smith, Open champion and two-time major winner Collin Morikawa has still to unearth the secret of Augusta National. He tied for 44th on his debut in 2020 before finishing in a tie for 18th. “I need to play my game,” he said of what he’d learned from those two experiences.
“You hear how much you need to hit draws, and you have to hit it high and you have to do certain things, but that's what I did wrong the past two years. Pretty much my week prep two years ago and last year was how do I hit a draw, how do I hit a high draw, how do I do this.
“This year was a little different. This year I just made sure everything was finely tuned and I go out there and figure out how to play the course to my strengths. And that's the biggest thing that I've learned I think overall.
“Speed and putting is going to be really key out here. You can't be hitting things three feet, five feet, six feet by and three-putting. There’re just shots you're going to give away that a lot of guys who are going to be near the top of the lead aren't going to do for the week.”
Get a year of unlimited access to all The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.