Some light-hearted comments from a few old classmates proved to be Cameron Smith’s biggest obstacle on Friday as he ripped up Royal Queensland to zoom in on the Australian PGA favourites.
While playing partners Adam Scott (72) and Ryan Fox (74) struggled in the big group, Smith shot 65 to move to nine-under and just one stroke behind tournament leader Jason Scrivener, who added a 67 to his first-round 65.
Kiwi star Fox missed the cut, while Scott, who is four under overall, has some weekend work ahead of him if he wants to win the Kirkwood Cup for a third time.
“I’m really going to have to pull out all the stops on the weekend and play well, which I know I can do,” said Scott.
Smith, who made a birdie on the 18th to ensure he was in the final group with Scrivener on Saturday, can also “play well” and will be hard to stop as he also bids for a third Australian PGA title .
“I knew that putt (on the 18th) was probably going to put me in the last group, so that’s a good one,” said the reigning British Open champion.
“I like to play in those last groups.”
Friday could have been even better for Smith if he hadn’t three-putted and bogeyed on the 17th, the “party hole” where some of his old school friends were at.
“They were yelling at me at 17, so that’s why I kind of had to chuckle to myself,” he said.
“I’m sure they made fun of me for missing that second putt too… (but) it was really good energy out there.
“Golf should be more like this. That’s what we need.”
While Smith will dominate the weekend’s headlines, Scrivener can’t be ruled out as he tries to end a five-year drought.
The 33-year-old from Perth, whose only professional win was the November 2017 NSW Open, warned his rivals there was weekend improvement in him.
“(Thursday) I was pretty stress free and I was able to keep the ball from tee to green really well,” Scrivener said.
“Today was a bit messier. I got away with a few things and scraped well.
“I’m just doing what I’ve been doing for the past two days. You have to be pretty patient there; pick your places to be aggressive and then you have to be pretty conservative at other times.
“I’m sticking to the same plan.”
Two players – Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura (68, 66) and Victoria’s Cameron John (69, 65) – are two shots down at eight-under.
Five players – including Polish star Adrian Meronk, who scored 67 in the second round on Thursday in addition to his 68 – are well-positioned at seven-under heading into the weekend.
Meanwhile, Jed Morgan’s tournament defense has come to an end after missing the cut by a total of two rounds, two over 144.
Also Lucas Herbert will not play next weekend after pulling out during the second round with a back injury. The injury is not expected to rule him out of next week’s Australian Open.
Hopes for an Australian PGA showdown between Cam Smith and Adam Scott on Sunday are on track after the star pair opened the tournament with impressive rounds at Royal Queensland.
Scott, the 2013 Masters winner, was the first clubhouse leader after a five-under-par 66, while Smith, the reigning British Open champion, was two shots back after a first-round 68.
By late afternoon, however, Scott had been shadowed by fellow Australians Min Woo Lee, Jason Scrivener and John Lyras, who led the tournament six-under after brilliant rounds of 65.
“It was great,” Lee said.
“(It was) very solid. There was one mistake, a bad drive on (hole) 10, but other than that it was a very solid day approach and off the tee, and a very good day on the greens, so if I can do that for the next few days , it will be very nice.
Earlier, when Scott and Smith teed off at 6am Queensland time in a large group that included New Zealand star Ryan Fox (one over 72), Scott and Smith were pleasantly surprised by the thousands of fans who couldn’t help but notice prevented them from seeing their early start. heroes live in action.
“It was great,” said Scott/.
“It was incredibly early, but as we walked to the tee, people flocked to the golf course and they should.
“It’s great to see everyone coming out. It’s exciting that Cam is coming home to play off the end of the year he’s had.
“We had a strong group. Also ‘Foxy’ played great.”
Scott described himself as the “third wheel” of the group, but he was the star of the show on Thursday with a round that included seven birdies and two bogeys.
“The conditions couldn’t be better and you want to take advantage of those morning laps,” he said.
“Overall there was good solid play from me today.”
Smith started slowly. He teed off on 10th and was one over after nine holes before scoring three birdies over his last nine holes.
“I definitely felt a little tired this morning – the brain was a little foggy,” said the world number 3.
“I had a hard time really focusing there and committing to shots… but it got around the back nine and finished well.
“I did what I had to do. ‘Scotty’ played really nice. He comes in some form, the ‘old dude’, so he might be hard to chase over the weekend.
Scott joined Brad Kennedy at five-under. Anthony Quayle, Peter Cooke and South Korea’s Jeung-hun Wang, while a shot further back at four-under Queenslander Maverick Antcliff, China’s Yan Wei Liu, Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune, France’s Pierre Pineau and New Zealand’s Denzel were Iremiah.
“I don’t really like the golf course – it doesn’t really suit my eye,” said Antcliff, whose round featured an eagle on the 545 par-five seventh.
“He’s in great shape, but I’ve been playing well for a while. I just haven’t been doing very well.
“I worked hard on it, so I’m not really surprised.”
Reigning tournament champion Jed Morgan, playing in the group behind Scott and Smith, opened his title defense with a one-under 70.