Promising Australian golfer Cameron Smith has produced a blazing finish after a rain delay to earn a major championship debut at next week’s US Open.
The 21-year-old Queenslander booked his start in the Open at Chambers Bay with four birdies in his last six holes, just when it looked as though Australia’s efforts across the eight American qualifying sites were going to be without success.
“I’m pumped and really looking forward to it obviously,” said Smith after joining exempt Australians Jason Day, Adam Scott, John Senden, Geoff Ogilvy, Marc Leishman, Marcus Fraser and Kurt Barnes in the field.
“It is going to be my first major so I’ll be over the moon. I’ll try to prepare well and see what happens.”
Competing in Columbus, Ohio, Smith shot a three-under-69 in the morning at The Lakes before heading over to the tougher Brookside course needing something special.
Floundering at just one-under through 12 holes, Smith and the other players were pulled from the course as a heavy storm rolled through.
After a 97-minute delay he promptly made four birdies in his remaining holes, including three on the trot, to post a 67 and finish at eight-under leaving him tied seventh and holding one of 15 tickets to Chambers Bay, just outside Seattle.
“After the delay I knew I had to get something going so I played aggressive and it all came off as I made a couple of putts,” said Smith, who turned pro in 2013 when the Australian Amateur champion.
“I have been working pretty hard on my game for the last few months so for this to happen is pretty amazing and some nice validation.
“I am starting to feel a bit more comfortable among the big guys and hopefully that continues and I keep playing better and better.”
While Smith booked a place it was a miserable day for the rest of Australia’s 20 competitors who all failed to qualify across the country.
In Columbus, recent US PGA Tour winner Steven Bowditch plus Robert Allenby, Aaron Baddeley, Greg Chalmers, Bronson La’Cassie and Ashley Hall all fell short.
It was a similar scenario at other venues with veteran Rod Pampling facing the biggest heartache.
Inside the mark with a hole to play in Texas, Pampling looked set to replicate his qualifying effort from last year only to double bogey the final hole and miss by a shot.
Clint Rice was also close to qualifying in Springfield, Ohio, where his fifth place finish missed a berth by one shot but secured alternate status, leaving him to hope for some withdrawals for a maiden major appearance.