by Tony Webeck, PGA of Australia
Queenslander Cameron Smith is ready to defend his Australian PGA Championship title this week
& copy PGA of Australia
Former US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy has called Australian sports fans to sit right and pay attention to the rising star Cameron Smith, believing the Queenslander is about to become a top-10 player in the world
Smith will defend his Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines Resort from Thursday onwards and fly the flag for Australian golf at both the Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney and then as half of Team Australia at the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne.
Although he still looks like he should spend the week on the Gold Coast at school, the 25-year-old now occupies an elevated position in the world's wave, a position that, according to Ogilvy, will only improve in the coming years.
Smith's ranking of 33 in the world places him behind only Jason Day (11th) and Marc Leishman (21st) as the leading male golfer of Australia and Ogilvy is adamant that he has all the tools needed to continue his fast ascension.
"Australians have to watch Cam Smith," said Ogilvy, who is making his first appearance this week at Royal Pines.
"He's really good, he respects the entire dressing room in the US, and that's hard to come by.
"Until now, every time you see him, he plays a little better than the last time, you can not say that about many guys.
"He improves at a nice pace, he is easily one of the top 40, 50 boys, one that people notice and top 40 or 50, that's really good, he could be a year away from a top 10 man.
"Jordan Spieth does nothing better than Cam Smith, except that he makes more putts at the right time and jumps up and down at the right time, and that is not something you go to the range and practice.
"That's just experience with playing, and some are faster in learning that." Jordan learned it very young and Cam is coming there, and physically it looks like he really knows what he's doing with his golf swing. "
Few know the game of Smith better than the teammate Marc Leishman of the World Cup and, as Ogilvy says, that people in high places pay attention to his development.
"When Cam is on the leaderboard, be careful," said Leishman, who is desperate to break his duck in the big tournaments of Australia in his last event of the year.
"He has previously won tournaments and someone who performs just as well as you, you have to keep an eye on.
"I know everyone will take notice of him, especially Ernie Els has made a lot of note of him, as captain of the President Cup team.
"He improves a lot, he is already a very good player and he is getting better."
It is a great praise that modest Smith is not sure how to handle – "Thanks Geoff" – and has no influence on the goals he has set himself
"My next goal for myself is to make myself a top 20 player in the world," said Smith, who finished fifth in his second Masters appearance this year.
"I made myself a top 50 player in the world, which was the goal in recent years.
"I do not know, it seems that everything is happening so fast.
"I'm not sure when it will happen, of course it is a very big step to get there and something that I want to do, but certainly not a timeframe.
"I try to make myself better every day.
"If it happens, it happens."
Believed for his short game sorcery, which was in full swing at The Metropolitan Golf Club last week, Ogilvy believes it is in fact the untenable behavior of Smith that elevates him to one of the best players on the planet.
"Not being unflappable is very difficult, or are you or not?" Ogilvy reasoned.
"Of course we are either the man who yells at the car that brakes for us, or we think, oh, he is slower.
"If you are the person who turns around, you are just the one who is flipping, golf is a game that will get you out of the way, so it's impressive.
"For someone like me, who always made me crazy, for Cam, he can get angry, but he just loves the short term and then it's over.
"That is impressive, and that is one of the attributes that will keep him there for a long time, because he does not seem to ride on the emotional roller coaster like many of us
"You are that way or you are not, and he seems mentally really healthy."