ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – With a 1-foot tap-in, Cameron Smith’s frustrating Saturday on the Old Course came to an apropos conclusion.
One day after making 253 feet of putts, an unofficial PGA Tour record for one round (no ShotLink this week), Smith made only 50 feet in Round 3 of the 150th Open Championship.
Fifty feet, over 18 holes.
"It was just one of those days. Unfortunately, the golfing gods weren't with me today," Smith said after his round. "I felt as though I hit lots of good putts. Just nothing was really dropping. Yeah, quite the opposite to the first couple of days, which is pretty hard to take on the chin."
It was a struggle on the greens from the start, as the 36-hole leader recorded his first three-putt of the week for bogey at the par-4 first.
He didn’t make a birdie until driving the green at the par-4 ninth and two-putting from 54 feet, the second of which was from 2 feet.
Smith made the turn having made only 26 feet of putts and continued that unfortunate trend on the back nine. His longest putt of the day was a 10-footer at the par-5 14th.
That was a much-needed birdie.
Smith nearly played himself out of the championship with a disastrous 13th hole. After his tee shot finished on the right edge of a bunker, he stepped inside the sandy area, gripped down on an iron, and took a hit-and-hope whack.
Hope lost. His ball finished sitting up in a gorse bush from where he had to take another prayerful lash. He managed to extricate it and eventually reached the green in four. Two putts later, it was a double bogey-6 and the Aussie was four off the lead.
That’s where he finished the day. Smith parred his final four holes, making just 6 feet of putts through that closing stretch. His 1-over 73 dropped him to 12 under par for the championship and into a tie for third place with playing partner Cameron Young (71).
He and Young will play together again on Sunday as they chase co-leaders Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.
"I love making birdies. I love making putts. That's what I need to go out there and do tomorrow," Smith said. "I need to stay aggressive. Maybe a slightly different game plan off a couple of tees and just try and make a ton of birdies."