There was a sense of calm about Smith all week, as he scrambled his way to a record not even Woods, Nicklaus or Player could achieve. Yet it still wasn’t enough to win as Johnson broke plenty of scoring records himself.
“We were doing our own thing and the game felt good leading up to that week as well, which is a massive positive when you’re going to somewhere you love and you know you can play well at,” Smith said. “It was just very calm.
“But it’s going to be nice having some people out there making some noise this week. That place is so cool when there’s people there, the roars that go through the whole course [are amazing]. It will be good to have that atmosphere back, which was definitely lacking last year.”
Smith will join 2013 Masters hero Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Matt Jones in the Masters field. For the first time, he’s the bookmakers’ pick to be the top Australian at a course where he’s never missed the cut in four attempts and has two top-five finishes.
For someone who prefers to sidestep the limelight, he will be firmly in it this week after being paired with the rejuvenated Jordan Spieth and major winner Collin Morikawa for the first two rounds.
Smith, 27, hasn’t seen his coach Grant Field in person since the COVID-19 pandemic began, resorting to weekly FaceTime catch-ups to iron out any deficiencies in his game.
He’s the first to admit the chances of anyone matching his record this week are remote, the drier conditions in the Masters’ traditional April timeslot set to make scoring tough again.
Maybe the only difference since Smith’s last trip to Augusta is that he’s fishing a lot more now than last year. And there’s also the wild mullet he’s refused to cut since growing it during lockdown, which he doesn’t dare touch now.
“A lot of the rugby league guys had it and then after a while I thought, ‘stuff it, I’m just going to keep it’,” Smith said.
“My girlfriend [Jordan Ontiveros] hates it. My mum is coming around and my nan thinks it’s the best thing ever. I’m afraid I’m going to wake up one night and [Jordan’s] going to be chopping it off.”
As for dad, he doesn’t care what hairstyle his son’s rocking as he’s a chance of righting Norman’s wrongs from all those years ago. And he won’t need to turn up for work if he does.
AUSTRALIANS AT THE MASTERS
- World ranking: 30
- Best Masters finish: T2 (2020)
- First round pairing: Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa (4am Friday morning AEST)
- World ranking: 32
- Best Masters finish: Won (2013)
- First round pairing: Bryson DeChambeau, Max Homa (3.36am Friday morning AEST)
- World ranking: 39
- Best Masters finish: T4 (2013)
- First round pairing: Victor Perez, Jason Kokrak (2.12am Friday morning AEST)
- World ranking: 52
- Best Masters finish: T2 (2011)
- First round pairing: Matthew Wolff, Cameron Champ (11.36pm Thursday night AEST)
- World ranking: 55
- Best Masters finish: Cut (2014)
- First round pairing: Sandy Lyle, Dylan Frittelli (10.12pm Thursday night AEST)
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.