Cameron Smith at the Olympics- photo IGF
Australia’s Cameron Smith has continued his improvement at the Tokyo Olympics, building on his opening two rounds when adding a third round of 66 at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, in Saitama, Japan, moving from his 19th place through 36 holes to now be in a share of 11th and just five shots from the lead held by American, Xander Schauffele.
Smith’s bogey free round has him within striking distance of the leader but the problem he faces is that he not only has to get past Schauffele, but several of the world’s leading players if he is to challenge for a medal of any colour, if not a gold medal.
“I thought 5-, 6-under today would get me close enough to where if I had another good one tomorrow I could be in the running for a medal,” said Smith after his round. “So, yeah it was nice to go out there, especially after a pretty poor start to kind of hang in there and shoot that.
“It’s going to take a good one. I think if I can get out to a start like I did on those first couple of days, make a few birdies in the first four or five holes I think I’ll be looking at it a bit differently. So I just need to go out there and do that.”
Smith began the third round seven shots from Schauffele but with three consecutive birdies in the middle of his front nine he had moved to 7 under for the tournament and within four of the lead.
He would birdie the 11th and 13th holes but Schauffele extended his lead to five over Smith and by one over his nearest rival Hideki Matsuyama with a magnificent birdie at the last, paving the way for a fascinating final day tomorrow when the American takes on the local hero Matsuyama.
Matsuyama became a folk hero in his home country following his victory at Augusta National earlier this year and it is hard to comprehend the enormous pressure he will face in tomorrow’s final round, but he has proven himself capable of carrying the weight of a nation before and might yet do it again.
Marc Leishman was round in 72 to be tied for 49th in the 60 man field while New Zealand’s Ryan Fox is 55th.