Cameron Smith in action this week – photo Ben Jared PGA Tour / IGF
Australian Cameron Smith is the best of the two Australians at the halfway stage of the Men’s Olympic competition, a second round of 67 allowing him to improve 21 positions from his overnight standing of 41st to a tie for 20th and seven shots from the lead.
It was, though, a round that might well have been significantly better but for a bizarre happening on the Queenslander’s final hole on Friday afternoon.
The demanding par four finishing proved even more so for Smith who pulled his second into the stands to the left of the green only for the ball to bounce across the fairway into the water. The resultant double bogey undid some of the great work Smith had produced up until that point, but he is still well enough placed heading into the weekend.
Smith expressed frustration with letting go what was shaping as a very good round.
“I was trying to hit it down there on the left and kind of the rough caught the heel a little bit, went a little bit further left than I anticipated, but yeah, pretty, I mean it was pretty frustrating day as it was, I felt like I did a lot of good stuff today and didn’t get the most out of my round and then to finish like that is kind of a bit crappy.
“I know my game’s there, like I said, I felt like I hit a lot of good golf shots today. I felt like I had a lot of opportunities, so just need to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully the putts drop over the weekend.”
Marc Leishman was caught on the golf course after play had been delayed more than two hours by storms on Friday.
Leishman was required to play two holes on Saturday morning to finish his round after being caught on the course by the impact of the delay and was able to birdie both of his two remaining holes after a brilliant approach to three feet at the 17th and a superb birdie at one of the course’s most challenging holes, the 18th where his approach finished 5 feet behind the hole.
Leishman is in 40th position and ten shots from the lead.
New Zealand’s Ryan Fox was another to return on Saturday morning to finish his second round and unfortunately for him he bogeyed the 17th to eventually finish with 72 to be in 48th place.
The leader is Xander Schauffele who played his last five holes in 5 under including a 60-foot eagle putt at the 14th and he takes a one-shot lead over Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz into the weekend.
Just one further back however is Hideki Matsuyama whose legend will grow even further if he can add a gold medal to his breakthrough Masters victory earlier in the year. Matsuyama’s round of 64 was second only to Schauffele in round two.