How 4 well-timed birdies played a pivotal role in Cameron Smith’s career

Cameron Smith is seeking his third win of the season at The Memorial.

Getty Images

Cameron Smith has been on fire this season.

The 28-year-old Aussie has two wins — the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the Players Championship — and a T3 at the Masters, followed by a T13 at the PGA Championship.

This week, he’s alone at the top of the leaderboard at The Memorial Tournament’s halfway point.

But Smith’s impressive ascension may never have been possible were it not for some well-timed birdies early in his career.

cameron smith titleist vokey sm9
Cameron Smith Q&A: The evolution of a red-hot putter, sage gear advice and more
By: Jonathan Wall

Seven years ago, in 2015, Smith was in the midst of his first season on the PGA Tour. He’d posted two top-15 finishes prior to his first start at the Memorial, where he missed the cut.

He then played the U.S. Open sectional at Brookside Golf and Country Club and the Lakes Golf and Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, where he made four birdies down the stretch to be among the players who punched their ticket to that year’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

That U.S. Open was Smith’s first major championship, and he took full advantage of the opportunity, finishing T4, which earned him entry into the following year’s Masters. He also made enough money as a non-PGA-Tour member to keep his card for the following season.

Fast-forward to this week, and Smith is the third-ranked player in the world, and one of the hottest players in the game. And after he finished his second round at Murifield Village on Friday, he reflected on what that sectional qualifier has meant to his career.

“I think that changed my career getting into the U.S. Open, ended up having a really good finish there,” he said. “And it set up a lot of stuff on the PGA Tour. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster, especially that first couple of years of my pro career. But happy it turned out the way it did.”

Jessica Marksbury

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on