MELBOURNE : Cameron Smith was ‘beers deep’ at the pub having written off his chances of weekend action at the Australian Open before belatedly realising he had made the cut, the world number three said.
A gloomy Smith left Kingston Heath Golf Club quickly on Friday after playing a “rubbish” round of 73 to be two-over at the halfway mark, initially above the projected cut line.
The cut line, however, moved up a stroke as later groups struggled in breezier conditions on Melbourne’s ‘Sandbelt’, putting the home hero and headline act back in the event and cutting short his drinking session.
“Yeah, I wasn’t really expecting it, to be honest,” the mullet-haired 29-year-old told reporters on Saturday after shooting a one-under 69 at Victoria Golf Club, the other of the two courses in play.
“I was pretty quick to the pub, and yeah, was probably a few too many beers deep and then I realised we had an early tee time, so I got back on the waters and was a good boy the rest of the night.”
Smith’s third round was his best of the week but the British Open champion may not be in much danger of having another drinks ruined if he heads to the pub again.
The inaugural dual gender tournament has an unusual second cut after Saturday’s third round, with only the top 30 players from each of the men’s and women’s fields to return to Victoria Golf Club on Sunday.
His one-over total of 213 was two strokes behind the projected second cut at one-under.
Barring a slew of poor rounds from players above him, Smith will settle into a well-deserved holiday after a break-out year featuring a maiden major triumph and five wins across circuits.
His first trip home after three COVID-plagued years has been fruitful, too, with a third Australian PGA Championship win in front of home fans in Brisbane on Sunday.
Some pundits criticised Smith’s decision to sign with the Saudi-backed LIV Series and turn his back on the U.S. PGA Tour for a reported $150 million.
An unrepentant Smith has enjoyed only warmth at home, though, drawing big crowds to the events in Brisbane and Melbourne.
He said his lighter schedule with LIV was a bonus as it meant more time at home in Queensland.
He will put his clubs away for a few weeks but maybe play a social round with his dad at his home course at Wantima Country Club in Brisbane.
“I’m looking forward to a lazy week, to be honest,” he said.
“I think just a bit of fishing … I feel a bit old at the moment, the amount of golf I’ve been playing.”
PERTH : Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting returned to the commentary booth for the first test against West Indies on Saturday after suffering a health scare while on the job on day three at Perth Stadium.
Ponting, who was rushed to hospital on Friday after having chest pains while commentating for the Seven Network, said it had been a “little scary moment”.
“I was sitting through the comms (commentary) box halfway through the stint, then I got a couple of really short, sharp pains through my chest,” the 47-year-old said on Seven’s broadcast at Perth Stadium before the start of day four.
“I sort of tried to stretch it out and get rid of it.”
Ponting said he finished his commentary stint but felt a “bit lightheaded and dizzy” and lost balance when he stood to move to the back of the box.
He said he then alerted fellow commentator Justin Langer, his former Australia team mate, and a Channel Seven producer, before arriving at hospital some 10-15 minutes later.
Ponting did not offer any details on his condition or the cause of his chest pains.
“It’s good to see the little fella not being the tough guy, not being the ice man, reaching out to one of his friends,” Langer, standing alongside Ponting, said on Saturday’s broadcast.
Sounding in good spirits, the former batsman nicknamed “Punter” said he was ready to plough back into work.
“I feel great this morning, I’m all shiny and new this morning,” he said.
(Writing by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by William Mallard)