While disappointed not to have joined fellow Aussie Marc Leishman in the playoff for the PGA TOUR’s inaugural CJ Cup in Korea, Cameron Smith can be well pleased with the start of his 2018 campaign.
While one shot shy of joining Leishman and eventual winner Justin Thomas in extra time, Smith’s third place finish, alongside his T5 result last week in Malaysia, already sees him inside the top-10 on the new season FedEx Cup list.
Smith sits in seventh place, one spot behind Leishman, despite teeing up in only two of the three tournaments played to date.
With half of the eight rounds he has played this season in the 60’s, and two of those being scores of 64, Smith has made his 2018 intentions clear and comes in to the Australian summer of golf in excellent form.
While Smith has impressed in two starts it took Leishman only one to confirm his career best 2017 was no anomaly.
Playing his first event of the season at the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges Leishman showed no signs of fatigue despite a hectic run to end last season.
Opening with a 66 to be well in the mix, the Victorian hung tough as scoring conditions continued to be difficult all week and while he eventually succumbed to Thomas in a two hole playoff he will take a lot of positives from his play.
Like Smith he is already in the top-10 on the FedEx Cup standings and after his two-win season in 2017 is showing no signs of slowing the pace in the new season.
Seven Australasians made the journey to Korea for the inaugural staging of this event with Jason Day, Adam Scott, Rod Pampling, Ryan Ruffels and Danny Lee all joining Smith and Leishman in the field.
Day was next best on the leaderboard at T11 after another week where he showed flashes of brilliance among moments of poor play, a pattern that plagued him in 2017.
His opening 68 was a prime example of his troubles, a double bogey at the par-5 18th and two other dropped shots taking away from the eight birdies he made in the other 15 holes.
Adam Scott, too, continued to be at less than his best on his way to a T25 finish with none of his four rounds in the 60’s.
A tumultuous end to the season, including an unexpected dash across the globe to tee up in the second of the FedEx Cup Playoff events, seemed to do little for his game which was also lacklustre at the Presidents Cup.
Rod Pampling (T61), tournament invitee Ryan Ruffels (T67) and New Zealand’s Danny Lee (71st) were the last of the Australasian campaigners but all finished well over par in a forgettable week.
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