Cameron Smith, Australia’s quiet achiever, ready to take on Tiger Woods at Royal Melbourne Golf Club


But it wasn’t always like that.

“When I grew up, if I was being a bit of a menace on the golf course my dad would give me a clip and tell me to wake up to myself,” Smith told the Sunday Age and Sun-Herald.

Cameron Smith loved golf from an early age.Credit:Getty Images

Smith’s father, Des, installed a plumbing pipe on the side of his golf bag to hold Smith’s tiny clubs when he was a boy.

The two would walk around Wantima Country Club – just north of Brisbane – a place that helped Smith fall in love with the game.

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He still goes there to play when his busy schedule allows him time at home in Queensland, as it will at Christmas after a hectic calendar year on tour.

And who knows, maybe some more stern words from Des. But that’s only likely to happen if he snaps a club over his knee; an occurrence unlikely to repeat itself.

“So it’s straightened me up a little bit. When I was young I was a bit of an angry head but it takes a fair bit now to get me to that point.”

That point – according to Smith – is usually when he’s watching his beloved Brisbane Broncos.

“Watching them play is probably the happiest and the angriest you’ll ever see me,” he laughed.

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Although he may not show as much emotion as some on the course, Smith is competitive as they come.

You didn’t need to ask him twice about the possibility of being part of an International team to defeat the US for the first time in two decades.

“I would find nothing more satisfying than beating the US team,” he said sternly.

“It’s always been in the back of my mind all year.

“I know a few of the other boys in the last team copped a bit of crap. The local crowds were a bit harsh on them so it would just be nice to kind of give it back, in a way.”

The Internationals were well beaten in New Jersey two years ago.

Three Australians – Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and the now-injured Jason Day – were part of a team who were obliterated on the opening two days, winning just one of 10 matches.

But the Americans won’t have it all their own way this time around, particularly on the firm and fast greens of Royal Melbourne.

British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch believes Smith can be the secret weapon for Ernie Els.

“This golf course is built for Cam Smith,” Baker-Finch declared as he stared across the putting green towards the 17th tee of the composite course.

“I think Cam will be the gun and the star around here,” he said.

“He’s a reluctant leader, he’s young and doesn’t have an outgoing personality, kind of like Leishman, but I think they’ll be a great pair.”

Australian teammate and friend Leishman, who he partnered at the World Cup of Golf at Kingston Heath last year, is expecting a big year on the PGA Tour from Smith.

“He’s got one of the best wedge games I’ve ever seen,” Leishman said.

“He’s got the confidence to go along with it and in golf you need a lot of confidence.”

Smith is currently in Sydney competing in Australian Open, a title that has so far eluded him.

Smith shares a laugh with friend Marc Leishman and Mexico's Abraham Ancer at the Australian Open in Sydney.

Smith shares a laugh with friend Marc Leishman and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer at the Australian Open in Sydney.Credit:Getty Images

He’s a two-time Australian PGA winner, but hasn’t been able to win the other major local title, having been beaten by Jordan Spieth in a three-way playoff in 2016.

An in-form and confident Smith would be something Woods and his team would rather avoid.

Many of Smith’s opponents have seen what he’s capable of on the big stage, particularly when his short game is on song.

He finished tied for fourth with countryman Scott in the 2015 US Open; first was Spieth and second was Dustin Johnson.

In the US Masters last year, he finished six shots behind winner Patrick Reed, tied for fifth with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy.

Now, he has home-ground advantage.

“Yeah, I’ve always loved the sunbelt courses in Melbourne,” Smith said.

“I love the green complexes, I love how it forces you to be smart around the greens and use plenty of wedges to give yourself plenty of birdie opportunities.

“I also love how you can play a certain shot six or seven different ways, depending on what you want to do.”

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