By Steve Keating
ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) – To hear Cameron Smith you would think he was in Scotland for a holiday with his mates rather than the golfer sitting atop the 150th British Open leaderboard after nearly carding a record for the tournament on Friday to snatch the second round lead.
The highlight of his visit to St Andrews so far is a picture on the Swilcan Bridge with his Australian pals Adam Scott and Marc Leishman.
“Playing nine holes with Leish and Scotty the other day and getting our photo taken on the bridge I think that is something that I’ll definitely never forget,” Smith said with a smile.
“Two of my best mates now in the Home of Golf, just having a good time, having a whack around, that was really cool.”
And what do you do after returning a flawless eight-under 64, one shot shy of The Open championship record to move two clear of American Cameron Young at the midway point of the year’s final major?
How about catching a few episodes of “Peaky Blinders”, a good lie in and a ride on your bike – all on Smith’s to do list.
“I think I’ve always done a good job of once golf is finished kind of getting on with life,” explained Smith. “Told myself it’s like a job. Don’t take it home with you.
“And I think it’s really important, especially in these big tournaments.”
Despite having won golf’s unofficial fifth major, the Players Championship, this year and finished in a tie for third at the Masters, the 28-year-old is not even the best known Cameron Smith in Australia where he is constantly mistaken for the rugby league great who has the same name.
That could change if the man with the signature mullet can stay at the top for two more rounds and become the first Australian since Greg Norman to return home with the Claret Jug.
“I think there’s going to be a few more gnarly pins, and I think being smart out there is definitely going to be the key to staying at the top of the leaderboard,” said Smith.
“The last couple of days has been such a grind, it’s almost snapped me back into thinking about the shot right and really having to be precise with targets and shapes.
“I think Tuesday/Wednesday was more the kid coming out in me, using the big humps and hollows and stuff like that. But it’s definitely been a little different in the last couple of days.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in St Andrews; Editing by Ken Ferris)