Cameron Smith reels in RBC Heritage lead with bogey-free, career-low 62

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Steve DiMeglio
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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Cameron Smith came up empty fishing just past the 17th hole at Harbour Town Golf Links on Wednesday.

His luck certainly changed on Thursday.

Smith reeled in the first-round lead of the RBC Heritage with a bogey-free, 9-under-par 62 to stand one shot clear of Stewart Cink. Smith, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, didn’t have a 5 on his card and made three of his nine birdies on his final four holes, including holing out from a back bunker on the 17th and polishing off his gem of a round from 4 feet on the 18th.

“We were actually out there (fishing) for about 45 minutes and then security came out and escorted us off. I tried my best to stay out there. I’m addicted to fishing,” Smith said. “But I just thought it was best to just leave.”

Smith thought it best to head home to Jacksonville, Florida, after finishing in a tie for 10th in last week’s Masters. Smith also tied for second in the 2020 Masters in November when he became the only player in tournament history to shoot four rounds in the 60s in the same year.

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In the Sunshine State, Smith started to decompress from the Masters and drove back up to Hilton Head Tuesday afternoon.

“Augusta, especially how I played last week, was very stressful,” Smith said. “I mean, you’re almost worried about every shot out there it seems like. I had a couple days at home. I drove up here Tuesday lunchtime, just played nine holes in the pro-am (on Wednesday). I felt like my game was in a really good spot, so I didn’t feel like I needed to come here and really grind out a couple of good practice days. I felt like everything was in a good spot.

“And I think it paid off, those couple days at home.”

Smith started to cash in quickly as he birdied the second and then ripped off three consecutive birdies starting at the fourth. He turned in 31 after another birdie at the ninth and added red numbers on the 12th, 15th, 17th and 18th.

“It was just one of those days, I guess, where there wasn’t really lots of in-between shots, so I could be really aggressive into the greens,” he said. “Everything I had today was kind of like a perfect number, and I think that’s why I hit so many good golf shots. I hit lots of irons close, and when I missed one, I missed it in the right spots. Not a lot of stress out there, which is nice.”

There certainly wasn’t much stress when he missed a green.

“After last week, I feel like chipping around here is almost like a breeze,” he said. “I was so scared almost last week on every chip shot, and I feel like I can be really aggressive around here.

“This place really gets my creativity going into the greens. Especially there’s a couple of holes out there where you really have to shape it into the greens around trees, and if you’re in a bad spot off the tee, you just have to know where to miss it, especially with how firm the greens are out there.

“It was just a really solid day.”