Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman will arrive in Japan next week with double motivation to go for gold after they left the British Open in England with regrets having arrived in form to contend for the Claret Jug.
Smith went out in the fifth-last pairing and needed a round in the low 60s to put pressure on the later groups but came unstuck in a tricky bunker and took two to escape after having to play his first shot left-handed.
Leishman missed the cut by a shot despite playing really well from tee to green. He snapped his putter in frustration at the 10th hole of his second round and promptly began to drain putts when forced to improvise with a wedge and finished with three birdies.
“Any chance I can get to represent my country, I think that’s your biggest honour as a professional. It means I can get to represent the green and gold out there and I’m going to try my best,” Smith, 27, said. “I feel like I’m playing really good golf. My game’s in a really good spot. I just need to get back on the horse and keep doing what I’m doing and I’m sure I will be right up there.”
The US-based Australians are good mates and have made their own arrangements to travel to Japan. Neither has been back to Australia in more than 18 months.
Smith and his caddie will leave from Jacksonville, Florida, on Sunday in readiness for a Monday arrival and a spectator-free four-round singles tournament that finishes the following Sunday.
“It’s obviously a good field over there, but I’ve played in Japan a lot, especially through my teenage and early professional career,” Smith said. “I love the golf courses over there. They are pristine.”
“We’ve just started getting back into playing with crowds the last couple of months and had a couple of really nice ones,” he added. “It will be like it was a year ago. I think we’ve got used to this again, so it will be hard to go back with no one there. But we’ll make the most of it.
“We get a couple of days’ prep beforehand. I get over there a bit early to get over the jet lag. We’re not staying in the Olympic village. The golf course is out of the city, so we’ve opted to stay near there.”