WHEN you are not even the most famous Queensland sportsman named Cameron Smith, you get used to hiding in plain sight.
And so it was on Sunday when Cameron Smith — the 23-year-old Aussie golfer, not rugby league player — came out of nowhere to almost win the Australian Open.
Teeing off in the last round an hour ahead of the main contenders, Smith was five shots off the pace but a sizzling round of 66 saw him climb slowly and steadily towards the top of the leaderboard.
The Brisbane youngster, who plays on the US PGA Tour, got all the way to a share of the lead with Geoff Ogilvy as he stood on the last tee.
“It was meant to blow all day today, so I thought if I could get close to 11 or 12-under par, then I’d have a good shot,” he said. “That’s what we did.
“I hit my irons straight all today and my driver as well. I didn’t really have to do much with the putter at all; pretty much kick ins besides the two of them, so that was awesome.”
With Ogilvy soon to sink his tournament with a double-bogey over on the 16th, and Ash Hall and Jordan Spieth to top out at 12-under, a plain vanilla par would have seen Smith finish at 13-under and win the Australian Open.
But hindsight — and foresight — are wonderful things in sport, and after a trip to the trees and a trap on the last, Smith bogeyed.
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He joined the three-way playoff and another pulled tee shot saw Smith clip the trees and only manage to land on the front of the green, where he was never a hope to match Spieth with the flat stick.
A sleepless night of what-ifs was eased somewhat for Smith, however, with equal second place earning him a spot in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in 2017, along with Hall and Aaron Baddeley.
The Australian Open is part of the Open qualifying series.
“To have one of those is awesome. It’s the only Major I haven’t played in yet, so I’m keen to get over there,” Smith said.
In an Australian Open where the local young guns were talked up pre-tournament, Smith proved himself yet again to be the gen-next golfer who can put runs on the board, regardless of hype.
Smith turned pro in 2015 and tied fourth on debut at the US Open with a stunning performance.
He hopes to be able to do the same at the Open next July, and perhaps in the birthplace of golf, even make a name for himself.
“Yeah, absolutely. That’s the one with all the history,” Smith said.
“I’d love to go over there and see what I can do.”
Curtis Luck finished as the leading amateur at 7-under.