Infotainment Factory: How Smith inspired Aussie comeback

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Thursday, 22 November 2018

How Smith inspired Aussie comeback


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Cameron Smith says a friendly spray to teammate Marc Leishman got Australia's World Cup charge back on track as the tournament favourites secured a share of the lead on day one.

With forecasted wild weather failing to show up at Melbourne's Metropolitan Golf Club on Thursday, scores were hot in the opening round four-ball (best ball) format but Cup favourites Australia kept pace with a 10-under-par 62.

Australia joined England duo Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter, as well as Koreans Byeong Hun An and Si Woo Kim, atop the leaderboard at the $US7 million ($A9.6 million) two-man teams event.

Defending champions Denmark (Thorbjorn Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen), Belgium (Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry) and Malaysia (Gaving Green and Ben Leong) share fourth at nine under having each posted 63.

Cup debutant Smith carried Australia for the first four holes with a birdie and an eagle on his ball, with Leishman a slow starter.

"I gave 'Leish' a bit of an uppercut under the ribs after the fourth; I said, 'You can turn up anytime,'" Smith said.

Smith's light-hearted spray seemed to work wonders as the Cup's highest-ranked player Leishman stiffed his tee shot to tap-in distance for birdie at the par-3 sixth.

The world No.21 then contributed the team's next three birdies as Australia ignited a switch.

Leishman and Smith picked up three more shots coming home to lay a solid foundation for a run at a sixth World Cup title for Australia.

"When I was in trouble Cam played smart and he made great putts," Leishman said.

"Scores were pretty good today so I'm happy we're tied for the lead."

The 28 teams at the unofficial US PGA Tour event will now brace for the volatile foursomes format on Friday, which sees team partners hitting alternate shots using one ball.

Ryder Cup hero Poulter has a wealth of experience playing the alternate shot format for team Europe and says it can turn any teams event on its head.

"Yeah this tournament will be won and lost on Friday," Poulter said.

"Foursomes is the (format) where you can take yourself out of the tournament pretty quickly.

"Hopefully with Tyrrell and I playing it at the Ryder Cup a few weeks ago (in Paris) will help."

Meanwhile, American duo Matt Kuchar and Kyle Stanley, both multiple winners on the PGA Tour, struggled in the easier format - making a costly bogey along with five birdies and an eagle.

The Americans sit at six under alongside Finland, France, South Africa, Greece, Japan and China.

"It was a really slow and unfortunate back nine; six under has not hurt us but it has not helped us," Kuchar said.

Cameron Smith says a friendly spray to teammate Marc Leishman got Australia's World Cup charge back on track as the tournament favourites secured a share of the lead on day one.

With forecasted wild weather failing to show up at Melbourne's Metropolitan Golf Club on Thursday, scores were hot in the opening round four-ball (best ball) format but Cup favourites Australia kept pace with a 10-under-par 62.

Australia joined England duo Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter, as well as Koreans Byeong Hun An and Si Woo Kim, atop the leaderboard at the $US7 million ($A9.6 million) two-man teams event.

Defending champions Denmark (Thorbjorn Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen), Belgium (Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry) and Malaysia (Gaving Green and Ben Leong) share fourth at nine under having each posted 63.

Cup debutant Smith carried Australia for the first four holes with a birdie and an eagle on his ball, with Leishman a slow starter.

"I gave 'Leish' a bit of an uppercut under the ribs after the fourth; I said, 'You can turn up anytime,'" Smith said.

Smith's light-hearted spray seemed to work wonders as the Cup's highest-ranked player Leishman stiffed his tee shot to tap-in distance for birdie at the par-3 sixth.

The world No.21 then contributed the team's next three birdies as Australia ignited a switch.

Leishman and Smith picked up three more shots coming home to lay a solid foundation for a run at a sixth World Cup title for Australia.

"When I was in trouble Cam played smart and he made great putts," Leishman said.

"Scores were pretty good today so I'm happy we're tied for the lead."

The 28 teams at the unofficial US PGA Tour event will now brace for the volatile foursomes format on Friday, which sees team partners hitting alternate shots using one ball.

Ryder Cup hero Poulter has a wealth of experience playing the alternate shot format for team Europe and says it can turn any teams event on its head.

"Yeah this tournament will be won and lost on Friday," Poulter said.

"Foursomes is the (format) where you can take yourself out of the tournament pretty quickly.

"Hopefully with Tyrrell and I playing it at the Ryder Cup a few weeks ago (in Paris) will help."

Meanwhile, American duo Matt Kuchar and Kyle Stanley, both multiple winners on the PGA Tour, struggled in the easier format - making a costly bogey along with five birdies and an eagle.

The Americans sit at six under alongside Finland, France, South Africa, Greece, Japan and China.

"It was a really slow and unfortunate back nine; six under has not hurt us but it has not helped us," Kuchar said.

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