Cameron Smith knew a good showing at this week’s Australian PGA Championship was imperative if he wanted to earn his way into next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
Since Smith plays on the LIV Golf circuit, meaning he can’t maintain what was once a lofty spot in the Official World Golf Rankings, he needed to play well this week in Brisbane and then again next week at the Australian Open in Sydney.
The reigning champion failed miserably on the first test, missing the cut for the PGA by nine strokes on Friday by shooting a 7-over-par 78.
Smith, who was once No. 2 in the OWGR but has slipped to No. 18, was paired with Min Woo Lee, who ended the day with six birdies on his card and the top spot on the leaderboard.
For Smith, the poor showing left him emotional to the point where he was nearly moved to tears.
“Yeah, no words. Shit. I’ve performed under pressure before and it’s not acceptable, a bit upsetting actually,” he said. “I know what I’m doing, it’s just going out there and committing to something is another thing.”
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Smith, who tied for 10th at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, also won this event in 2017 and 2018, called his performance “unacceptable.”
“Australia’s been so good to me even when I have been tired so there’s no reason to really perform that way. I’ve performed under pressure before, it’s just unacceptable,” he said. “I just got on the wrong side a bunch of times and was trying to do a bit too much I think, it’s very frustrating.”
While Smith was struggling to score, Adam Scott was buzzing along, firing a 65 to tie for the day’s best round. Scott sits at 11 under at the tournament’s midpoint and just a stroke behind Lee.
“It’s always nice to have a bogey-free round, I probably haven’t had many of them this year,” Scott said. “I feel like my swing from the tee to the green is feeling better than it has for a while and that’s a nice thing for me.”