‘It’s there, but it’s very slim’: Smith not giving up hope at British Open

Sandwich: As Cameron Smith walked after his drive from the first tee and was pondering his choice of club on the left of the fairway, a 20-something bloke raced to the ropes on the right and yelled “Here we go, Cammy. Up the Maroons.” The Aussie golfer responded with a cheery wave before firing an iron shot to about 12 feet and setting up his first birdie of the day.

There is plenty of goodwill from the crowd towards Smith, the Queenslander with the cartoon-character walk, and there were further expressions of encouragement as he made his way through the roped gangway to the second tee and even a “thanks for the ticket” from another of the onlookers, a friend of his trainer back in Australia, apparently.

Cameron Smith has not ruled himself out of contention heading into the fourth round.Credit:AP

Smith had improved to seven under and a share of fourth place but he dropped his first shot at the 10th, another at the 11th, and a third at the 15th, with two birdies, crucially one of them at the last with an 18-foot putt, to finish on six under in a tie for ninth. He will tee off for the final round in company with Justin Harding of South Africa.

“If a couple of things had gone our way we would have shot a really low one out there today,” Smith said. “It felt really good to birdie 18 and be on the front foot for tomorrow. It was a bit of a brutal back nine and things just didn’t go my way. I played really good golf but before you knew it we had a couple of poor lies in the rough and two bogeys are on the card. It was one of the most disappointing nines, scorewise, I think I’ve ever played.”

Smith feels he needs a course-record eight-under 62 – “a big ask” – in the fourth round to put the leading pair under pressure and is conscious that a few other things also need to go his way, though he will be wearing his Sunday best. “When the clothing company has maroon in their season I will always give them a crack. I grew up in Queensland, I’m an avid State of Origin fan. That’s who I am, so I might as well do it on the last day.

“It’s going to take something special. Louis [Ooosthuizen] and Jordan [Spieth] are still there and great competitors so it’s going to be tough. It’s there, but it’s very slim. I feel I’ve got a low one in me, I just need a few decent bounces and a few decent lies in the rough and obviously the putts to go in. It’s definitely there.”

And with that he was off, the plan being to watch some more Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix before the end of the day. “It’s like a comedy show, and it puts me to sleep so I’ll watch it. It’s fun. I have a little giggle to myself and go to bed. Tonight I’ll probably watch another episode.”

Adam Scott, meanwhile, out with Justin Thomas a couple of hours earlier, had birdie chances at the first three, the best of them a down-hiller from about eight feet at the third, but managed to miss the lot. A calamitous six at the fourth and another at the last, and just the one birdie, saw him finish at two-over and preferring to keep his thoughts to himself.

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