‘It hurts’: Smith out for revenge at Australian Open after PGA shocker, delivers hilarious Richie McCaw sledge


Fresh from playing alongside All Blacks legend Richie McCaw on Wednesday, Cameron Smith is refusing to look back as he bids to rebound from the worst week of his illustrious career with a watershed Australian Open triumph in Sydney.

Reduced to tears after missing the halfway cut at the Australian PGA Championship, a cherished event he’s won three times, Smith believes he’s ironed out sufficient swing chinks to earn a shot at contending for Open glory.

“I wouldn’t say my confidence is at 100 per cent but there’s no reason I can’t go out there and be competitive,” Australia’s 2022 British Open champ said after Wednesday’s pro-am at The Australian Golf Club.

“It only takes a few good shots and a few good feels and all of a sudden you’re looking at yourself at the top of the leaderboard.”

The former world No.2 was anything but upbeat last Friday after carding a six-over-par shocker at Royal Queensland.

“It’s easy to lose confidence with rounds like that,” he said. 

“But I’ve been playing pretty good golf the last seven or eight months and it’s easy to look at it as just another round.

“It hurts the confidence a little bit. I’ve just got to get back to what I know and what I know I can do.”

Cameron Smith says last week’s missed cut hit hard, but the Open champion believes he can quickly find some form. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Rather than fleeing the PGA Championship scene, Smith spent the weekend working tirelessly with his trusty coach Grant Field.

While he’s optimistic of turning around his fortunes in Thursday’s first round at the co-hosting Lakes layout, Smith – who won two LIV Golf events in 2023 – admitted his jaw-dropping flop last week showed just how fickle the sport can be.

“It’s a silly game sometimes, to be honest,” he said.

“A couple of weeks ago I was competing to win the Hong Kong Open and I thought I was playing pretty decent golf. A couple of weeks later it was at the other end of the spectrum.

“It’s pretty weird how it can change that quickly. Just as you think you’ve got it, you don’t; and then sometimes when you think you don’t have it, you’re finishing in the top five or top 10.

“It’s a crazy game.”

Despite slipping to 20th in the world while unable to accrue points through the Saudi-backed breakaway league, Smith remains the highest-ranked player in the 156-strong field.

But there are another seven top-100 stars eyeing the Stonehaven Cup, one of the most coveted trophies in golf that has legendary names including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth etched onto it.

Poland’s Adrian Meronk, who mowed down Adam Scott in last year’s final round to deny his “childhood idol” and former world No.1 a second Open crown, is among the challengers looking to thwart Smith and pre-tournament favourite Min Woo Lee.

“It’s great to see the stage set up for everyone and see how everyone plays,” Meronk said.

“I can see more and more players arriving from Europe this year as well to compete. It’s a good thing.”

But Smith seems especially desperate to win.

“Growing up as a kid, you want to win your national open. It means everything,” he said.

“I was fortunate enough to watch a couple of Aussie Opens down here as a teenager and play in a bunch as well, so it always created a really good opportunity for me to learn as a young professional.

“It’s on the radar.”

Cameron Smith and Richie McCaw play a practise round in the pro-am ahead of the ISPS HANDA Australian Open at The Australian Golf Course on November 29, 2023 in Sydney. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

As Smith worked on fine-tuning his game, he spent the final practise round playing alongside two-time World Cup winner McCaw.

How’s his swing?

“I wouldn’t say good,” Smith quipped.

Although, the 2022 Open champion, did appreciate McCaw’s natural ability to hit the ball.

“It is amazing how athletes, really solid athletes can manage to play all different kinds of sports,” Smith said. “I could see him playing cricket well, I could see him playing everything well. Although he didn’t have the best action, he still hit a lot of great shots, which I think is a really good trait of a really good athlete.”

Smith and Lee will play the first two rounds together in the marquee pairing, starting on Thursday morning at The Lakes.


Australian PGA Championship winner Min Woo Lee is joined by most of Australia’s best golfers, including Cameron Smith, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Cam Davis, Lucas Herbert, Matt Jones, Aaron Baddeley and veterans Geoff Ogilvy, John Senden and Peter Lonard.

Of the foreigners, Poland’s Adrian Meronk is back to defend his 2022 title while the international crop also includes Chilean Joaquin Niemann, European Ryder Cup star Robert MacIntyre and in-form Japanese stars Ryo Hisatsune and Rikuya Hoshino.


A record total of AU$3.4 million of prize money is on offer, with the men’s and women’s champions to each receive $AU270,000


You can watch every round live ann Fox Sports, available on Foxtel and Kayo.

Coverage times in AEDT

Round 1: Thursday, 12pm – 5pm

Round 2: Friday, 12pm – 5pm

Round 3: Saturday, 2pm – 7pm

Round 4: Sunday, 2pm – 7pm


Full tee times for Round 1 have been released and can be viewed HERE.

Featured men’s and women’s groups.


7.05am Min Woo Lee, Cameron Smith, Rikuya Hoshino

7.16am Minjee Lee, Gabriela Ruffels, Stephanie Kyriacou

7.27am Marc Leishman, Cameron Davis, Robert MacIntyre


12pm: Adrian Meronk, Adam Scott, Matt Jones

12.11pm Hannah Green, Grace Kim, Ashleigh Buhai

12.22pm Aaron Baddeley, Lucas Herbert, Joaquin Niemann

With staff writers

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