“Scotty played really well,” said Smith, who finished with three birdies over his last four holes for a three-under 68. “He’s starting to get into shape, the old dude, I think, so he might be hard to chase over the weekend.
“He fits his body so well sometimes and I feel like he’s doing that right now.”
Smith played his out nine as if he was still trying to wake up, which he probably was. He called the brain “a little foggy,” and not because he’d once again indulged in golf’s most historic trophy. His mantra this week is simple: will over skill.
If anyone knows what his week was like – he brought a major’s signature award back to Australia and was bombarded with fan requests and promotions – it’s Scott. He did it in 2013 after winning The Masters. It felt like Scott never took off his green coat.
“Cam has become a star this year,” said Scott. “I’m sure he’s being pulled in all sorts of directions, but it’s something he’s probably learned quite quickly to manage at big events.
“I’m really not too worried about Cam, but hopefully he can enjoy the experience too, because playing golf that month or so when I got home that year is one of the great memories of my career.”
Behind Smith, Scott and Fox was a group with defending champion Jed Morgan (-1). It must have felt like coming on stage after Sinatra.
“Playing behind those three big dogs doesn’t help anyone,” Morgan laughed. “It would have been nice if they split them up so it didn’t look so favorable for them.”
Smith said: “I definitely enjoyed it [the week], but it’s been a long time. I had [Wednesday] free afternoon, I couldn’t wait to go home and take a nap. So I did and slept well last night. I went out and did what I had to do I guess.
Wang produces military precision
A golfer who was on military service for most of this year and was not allowed to touch a club traded blows with the big guns in an enthralling opening round.
As Lee and Jason Scrivener were joined by Lyras at the top of the standings yesterday, a Korean just one stroke behind admitted he’s struggling to readjust to professional golf.
Jeunghun Wang fired a composed five-under-66 – joining Adam Scott in a four-way tie behind the leading trio – just four months after his military service ended. The 27-year-old former European Tour winner has only played a handful of tournaments since returning to the sport.
“The feeling is [that I’m] not 100 percent back,” Wang said. “I’m trying to get better. It wasn’t a good experience. I had no golf at all.
“We had to shoot every day, run every day in the morning. It is [hard]. I thought about golf all the time. It was pretty hard. [But] I am very happy to play in Australia.”
The issue of releasing Korean athletes from military service has been a long and sensitive one. Powerful South Korean men are supposed to be drafted before the age of 28, but there are exceptions if they win an Olympic medal.
Watch the Australian PGA Championship on 9Network and 9Now from November 24-27.