CLAYTON: Cameron Smith can tame The Lakes

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There is an early week feeling of negativity about this week's #AusOpenGolf, but when Patrick Smith, the best sports writer in the country, comes out of his pension for a week to report on the piece, you know that things are not all bad can be.

The much-discussed failure to report for the duty of our three best players is particularly disappointing in the year in which we lost our biggest player, Peter Thomson.

The champion three times, in 1951, 1968 and 1972, Thomson was an unwavering supporter of the local tour. He understood his support, and that of his great friend, Kel Nagle, was needed to grow the local tour and become the vehicle for young Australians to make their way to European and American tours. Nor did the presence of either require a fee.

Anyway, the & # 39; big three & # 39; are not there, but come to us is another member of the clan, a genius with the wedge from Brisbane.

Cameron Smith won the Australian Amateur in 2012 and defeated Geoff Drakeford who was both more powerful (much more) and more impressive, except when it mattered. In the last nine of that last game, Smith found ruthless fairways and greens, while the taller driver did not find either with any regularity.

Yet he was not an obvious star, but he watched his play because he has proven to be very good at delivering world-class performance when needed. A fourth place in the 2015 US Open secured his job in America and a draw for fifth place in Augusta was equally impressive this year.

The Lakes is a course that encourages the longest hitters little. Indeed it can be more difficult and certainly more dangerous because it offers more temptation at holes such as the par 5, 11e that makes its way around a huge lake. Once the original water supply for the early inhabitants of Sydney, the long second shot is a formidable bear.

Others may try to drive the controversial short 13th. And at the penultimate hole, water runs along the whole long second shot. Some will miss left, but more will miss right because they are afraid to miss left. Anyway, Smith finds a job in his alley this week.

More familiar to us from the week-to-week coverage of the PGA Tour, the visiting American stars, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Brendan Steele and Keegan Bradley are perhaps less romantic than their compatriots from generations after Christ.

In Thomson's time, men like Gene Littler, Dave Stockton, Dave Hill, and J.C Snead would come and the crowd would flow to see them because their talents were things we could only read about. The contemporary quartet is not a lesser player and they should make a show that deserves attention.

Kuchar won last week in Mexico and it is a long flight from there but 55 years ago Gary Player in Melbourne after arriving on Thursday morning from Paris via New York, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Auckland and Sydney. The World Cup had suffered a day delay for fog in Paris, but despite the exhausting flight and playing with a brand new set of clubs that the player with seven shots won.

So long ago, Patrick Smith was still in the English class of primary education. It was clear that he was paying attention.

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