BRISBANE, Australia (AP) – Yes, Cameron Smith’s father was kicking himself, he didn’t travel to St Andrews to watch his son win the 150th British Open.
Smith noted in his championship winner’s news conference that his father, Des, made the late decision not to fly from Australia for only a week and that “he’s definitely kicking himself now. I wish he was here too.” Would.”
Instead, Des Smith had to watch on TV from the other side of the world as his son started the final round four shots behind, then was three shots behind on the turn, before completing the best closing round the Old Course had ever won. Had it. Title in a jiffy.
The father and son talked on the phone right after the new champion signed the card.
“I just told him I was proud of him and what a great achievement it was for him,” Des Smith told 7 Network’s Sunrise program. “Then I burst into tears, so I couldn’t talk much.
“We’ve been golf friends since he was about 3 years old, I think.”
It all ended on Monday morning in Australia’s east coast city of Brisbane, where the first Australian to win the British Open since 1993 finally got to see the most talked-about Cameron Smith in her home state of Queensland. The 1993 Open winner was Greg Norman and his victory came a month before Smith was born.
A rugby league player for more than a decade, the so-called State of Origin dynasty of Queensland and former captain of the Australia national team, Cameron Smith in this part of the world, has been top-notch among others.
Smith, a golfer with a flowing mullet and a so-called larynx sense of humour, credits the never-losing spirit of rugby league teams as his inspiration when they need to make a comeback.
Des Smith said the pair had spoken after the third round, when his son was not having a good day with the putter and was out of the lead, believing he was “mentally very strong”.
“Going into the final day, I still thought he was a big opportunity. He was 4 behind. He always makes a lot of birdies,” said Des Smith. “We just needed to make him the biggest day. He went ahead and did it.”
He certainly did, getting back in contention with five birdies to start the last nine.
“The whole country is proud of him, to be honest,” declared the proud father. “It’s been a while since we got the Open Championship.”
The Australian Broadcasting Corp presented the story of Smith as a “fearless Queenslander” whose humble beginnings earned a champion.
Des Smith began doing TV interviews from Vantima Country Club, a simple, no-frills golf club on the green northern edge of the 2032 Olympic City, as more than 100 veteran players began their regular Monday competition.
The club was hoping that more than a few beers would be poured into the celebration. So Cameron Smith, who wondered just how many beers could fit in a silver claret jug handed to the British Open champion, wouldn’t raise the only toast.
Ken McKay, a member and former junior program coordinator for the Vantima course, said the hardest thing for him was keeping quiet enough not to wake everyone else in the house while watching the final round.
“I don’t know how he keeps his nerves of steel, because I was on the edge of my seat all night,” McKay told ABC Australia.
McKay helped start the club’s Cameron Smith Jr. Classic in 2017 as a qualifying tournament for the Greg Norman Jr. Masters event. Smith has a large and loyal following in the club, traveling back from America to support the tournament.
“He’s really on the ground. He’s such a nice guy — always has been — giving his time to both the members and the juniors,” Mackey said. “He doesn’t let things get to his head.”
Smith was just the fifth Australian to win the British Open alongside five-time champion Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, two-time champion Greg Norman and Ian Baker-Finch.
Thomson in 1955 and Nagle in 1960 were the only other Australians to win it at St Andrews.
Thomson’s son, Andrew, said the timing was perfect for another Australian winner, coming the same day as he paid tribute to his father, who died in 2018.
, This morning at 6.45 am I scattered the ashes of my father on the 18th greenery of the Old Course. 12 hours later an Australian won The Open,” Andrew Thomson, who lives in Japan, posted on Twitter. “Cam Smith, Champion Golfer of the Year. Champagne Golf.”
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