Adam Scott and Cameron Smith were teammates last week at the Presidents Cup. This week at the Australian PGA Championship is another story however. Scott making that fact clear to Smith as soon as the team event was over last week.
“As soon as we were done on Sunday afternoon last week, he said, ‘I'm coming for you next week,’” Smith said of his fellow Australian PGA past winner.
Scott reiterating the point during a panel discussion with Smith hosted by Ian Baker-Finch at the Greg Norman Medal dinner on Tuesday night and when facing the media on Wednesday having completed his pro-am round in the morning, the Masters champion’s first look at the course this year.
“Obviously Cam's had a good run here, but that's got to come to an end at some point and I'm sure it's not just me who wants to take the Aussie PGA, there's probably a hundred plus other guys who would like to do it this week,” Scott said. “But I'm certainly feeling good after last week. And the fact that I haven't won a trophy for too long, I definitely would like to change that right here.”
Like Scott, Smith got his first look at RACV Royal Pines during his pro-am round on Wednesday afternoon. The duo understandably taking some time away from practise after the exhausting Presidents Cup week, while also nursing some slightly sore heads after letting their hair down on Sunday in Melbourne.
RIGHT: Scott got his first look at Royal Pines for 2019 during the pro-am on Wednesday. PHOTO: Chris Hyde/Getty Images.
Despite the required mental and physical output last week, as well as this marking the third consecutive week of golf for both players after playing the Australian Open, Scott was confident he would be ready to go on Thursday morning, when he will tee off at 11am AEST alongside rising star Min Woo Lee and former Open winner Stewart Cink.
“Not really,” Scott said when asked if it would be tough to get up for this week. “I mean, I kind of knew I was going to be doing it so I prepared myself for it. What I am excited about is I like where my golf game is at leaving Melbourne. If I can bring some of that out here this week, then I think I'll have a good chance of getting myself in for a chance to win, and that sounds fun to me because I would like to try and take some good momentum into next year.”
Whereas Scott was confident in his energy levels and preparation after the Presidents Cup, his teammate admitted he was in a different position than he would be normally heading into an event. Smith confident the home crowd, and some home cooking, would be enough to get him going on Thursday when he gets play underway at 6am local time alongside Cameron Champ and Ryan Fox.
“Probably not. I had quite a big Sunday night, so basically all of Monday was a travel day and a bit of a washout, and then I drove down here yesterday from Brisbane,” Smith said of his energy levels being at their normal levels.
“Being such a stressful week, it always takes it out of you. Just like being in contention, I feel like the next week I'm always a little bit slower and a little bit down on energy. But in saying that, I'm sure that the crowd will be good tomorrow and I'm sure I'll be up for the challenge tomorrow.
“I think he's going to cook that tomorrow morning. I don't know, we might have to start cooking that about 2:30 in the morning for a 6:00 am. tee time. Yeah, it's been the secret recipe I guess the last few years. It's worked out good so we're going to keep it going,” the two time defending champion added regarding his pre-game meal at the PGA Championship of his Uncle Trev’s bacon.
After making public comment on the Patrick Reed rules situation in the Bahamas, Smith experienced arguably more attention than ever last week, where despite making his debut he was a standout performer on Sunday when he took down the highest ranked player in the field, Justin Thomas, in singles. Conversely, Scott’s ninth Presidents Cup concluded with a heavy defeat to Xander Schauffele fresh off the back of missing the cut at the Australian Open. But Scott has no plans of the same occurring this week just down the road from one of his home bases, where he is sure to continue to receive a hero’s welcome at every turn.
“Last week the reception from the crowd in Melbourne for me personally, our whole team felt it, but certainly personally for me was a week that I'll never forget. It was fantastic,” Scott said. “They played a big part in lifting our team and my performance last week. Holing a couple putts in front of them and having people go crazy was a lot of fun for me in my home country, so I'm so appreciative of that. I wished I could have done a little bit better on Sunday because it would have been really fun to win a match in front of everyone.
“But certainly, you know, whoever comes out this week, I'm going to be playing hard and look forward to hearing a few cheers out there this week, too. It's been a fun three weeks even though in Sydney I didn't even get to play my best, but I expect it this week.”
Brisbane bred Smith won’t be lacking for support either at the venue he has claimed the Joe Kirkwood Cup two years running, which has the potential for a great scene for Australian golf if the two Queenslanders are battling down the stretch on Sunday, as Smith and Marc Leishman did last year.
“I don't think the atmosphere would be any different,” Smith said when asked to compare battling Scott to Leishman down the stretch. “I think Leish and I, as good of mates as we are, we both still want to win, we're still competitors. You know, the talk on the last nine holes last year was pretty minimal. Yeah, I mean, we're all here to do the same thing, and it got, it didn't get intense, but it definitely got a little bit different on that back nine on Sunday, for sure.”
As the two marquee local players, Smith and Scott will no doubt have an eye on each other’s performance over the early days of the Australian PGA Championship. Scott, having already placed a target on Smith’s back, getting one up on his younger Aussie already having played the pre-tournament pro-am with rugby league legend Jonathon Thurston.
“I mentioned that to him last night. I think one of the guys up there yesterday said that he was playing with him and I said I've never wanted be him so bad. I mean, I've wanted to be him my whole life and then now to play with JT, yeah, that's a big loss in my books,” Smith said of the pro-am pairing.
If Smith gets a historic third Joe Kirkwood Cup however this week, Scott, who admits to being frustrated by his win drought and having let multiple tournaments at home slip away, might just want to start being Cam Smith.