God's smile on Smith, finally

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by Mark Hayes on Pebble Beach

He had a good time, Cam Smith.

And it was exactly in time for his ambitions of US Open.

The young Australian, who has had an unusually slender trot on the American PGA Tour in the last three months, could have been mistaken for the worst of the eighth lap of a roller coaster on Pebble Beach.

Three early bogeys after starting on the 10th left him on the wrong side of the projected two-over cutting line before three birds around the turn gave him as much breathing space as he started his lap.

A bogey on the fifth was ignored by a birdie on the sixth and after a nice tee shot on the eighth he started to feel that he had done enough.

But golf was not meant to be easy.

The second shot of the Wantima ace on the long par-four seemed to come to safety on the right side of the green, but passed it again in sandy trouble.

"I didn't actually make such a bad shot – it was the place to miss it, but it ran over the face, fell back in (to the bunker) and half plugged in, then I didn't have much sand under it, "stated Smith.

"I tried to stay in it (the photo), but I ended up sliding it over the back and all I could do from above was just trying to keep it on the green.

"I did pretty well, but I missed the putt."

The resulting double-bogey left him at the back with two left, but with slight fading, there was the very real possibility that the cut could go to one and he still had the brutal ninth gap to complete his round.

But Smith, a well-known scoreboard observer who missed three cuts during his past seven events and who didn't finish in the top 50 at the time, is nothing so calm in a difficult place.

"I've been in that position a few times," Smith said with a cheeky grin trademark. "I was more frustrated than nervous or anxious."

And he took away his frustrations in the best possible way, pushed a mid-iron 4m past the pin after a thundering ride, and then quietly rolled out a tricky downhill birdie to the dead center to immediately put any worried fears to bed.

"Yes, that was only the wave gods who gave me behind it. I don't think too many people would have fished the ninth today.

"It was a good fight today.

"In the beginning there was a lot of good, a little nonsense. But I hung in well and knew that a number of birdie holes were coming up through the bend and that first part of the front remained just patient and the pits went in. "

Smith, who will play the third round with fellow countryman and partner Jason Day, said "a few rounds in the 60s" will keep him hopeful until late on Sunday.

"Yes, only a few under each round because the course gets harder every day. So I have to play the first six or seven neatly and then move on and see what happens.

"It's the holes to get it done. The greens here are so small that you can look like a millimeter and it seems to be a shortside or a worthless lie, but it's the holes to try if you can. "

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