Smith in danger of missing cut after posting 71

Cameron Smith plays from a path as he struggled to a one-over 71 in the first round of the Australian Open.

Cameron Smith plays from a path as he struggled to a one-over 71 in the first round of the Australian Open. Photo: Getty

The contentious new double-cut threatens to rob the landmark Australian Open of its biggest drawcard after Cameron Smith ruefully misfired in his first round at Victoria Golf Club.

Smith’s one-over-par 71 on Thursday left the superstar world No.3 a distant eight shots off the pace in his quest to complete the rare Open and Australian PGA Championship double.

Compounding his woes was a penalty stroke at the last for an unplayable lie off the tee.

“It was all pretty rubbish to be honest. That’s as bad as I’ve played in a long time. It was pretty sh…y,” Smith said.

“The course was pretty difficult, the conditions were pretty difficult, but still I need to be better than that.”

Smith is languishing in a tie for 61st and needs to remain in the top 70 on Friday to avoid the halfway chop.

Of more concern is the introduction this year of a second cut after Saturday’s third round to allow the Australian Open women’s field to share the fairways with the men for the first time.

Only the top 30 players and ties in both events will feature on Sunday, leaving fans facing the prospect of missing out on seeing Australian golf’s new Pied Piper.

It’s a grim scenario for officials, who strayed from more than a century of tradition in staging the Australian Open men’s and women’s events simultaneously.

“It’s obviously different but it’s the rules for this week so it is what it is. There’s not much I can do about it,” Smith said.

“The less people we can have on Sunday, the better, I think, for pace-of-play reasons and and all that stuff.

“So I don’t mind it. I think it’s fine. We got we still got three days – 54 holes is enough to you work out our stuff.

“It’s not like I don’t know how to play golf. Was just a bit of a bad day. Just a few things to clean up.”

Cameron Smith’s opening round at the Australian Open was plagued by his misadventures in the rough. Photo: Getty

Thousands of spectators flocked to watch Smith in action on day one of the first Australian Open since pre-pandemic in 2019.

But the 150th British Open champion endured an afternoon to forget, spending seemingly half his round in trees and sand traps and faltering uncharacteristically on the greens.

The scrambling wizard started brightly enough with a birdie on the first hole.

But four bogeys and almost five frustrating hours later, Smith found himself well adrift of surprise first-round leader David Micheluzzi, who sizzled with a seven-under-par 63 to be three strokes clear of the field.

“I think I had some delayed tiredness, maybe did feel a little bit foggy and stuff out there at times,” Smith said before heading to the practice range.

“It’s not really an excuse. You know, it’s my job to do all that stuff.”


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