Cameron Smith plays a shot on the 14th during his third round at the Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney. Picture: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
Cameron Smith plays a shot on the 14th during his third round at the Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney. Picture: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Burnt-out Smith retains hope at Australian Open

CAMERON Smith has cited mental burnout as a factor in his performance over the first three rounds of the Australian Open at The Lakes.

The pre-tournament favourite's two-under-par 70 on Saturday was his best return of the Open and left Smith one under for the championship.

The world No.33 and Australia's top-ranked player in the field isn't giving up hope of a contending for the Stonehaven Cup with a Sunday charge.

In reality, though, Smith will likely be too far back of the leaders and admits it's been a grind all week.

"I have been playing a lot of golf lately. I probably am due for a break but I just love coming back and playing in Aus," Smith said.

"It's kind of been a bit of a struggle probably the last month, month and a half.

"Those Asian tournaments as well, it was kind of the same things as well.

"I really don't know what it is. I'm doing everything I can. Whether I'm playing maybe a little bit too aggressive or I'm not playing aggressive enough, I'm not sure. I'm still trying to figure it out."

Just as the US PGA Tour star is trying to figure out the seventh hole at The Lakes.

The 160m par-three has been Smith's undoing all tournament.

After taking bogeys in both the first and second round, he chalked up a double on Saturday in an otherwise decent round featuring three birdies and a bounce-back eagle on the eighth.

"It's just one of those awkward holes for me, I guess," Smith said.

"I just stand up on the tee there and I'm umming and ahhing about what I should be doing and I just get over the ball and don't feel comfortable."

After finishing his third round seven shots behind the leaders, Smith is hoping he can produce a Sunday 64 to at least make a run.

"If I can get off to a reasonable start and get myself up there, the back nine with the way it is with those three par fives, anything can really happen," he said.

"So I've just got to dig deep and hopefully I can go out there and shoot a good one."

In any case, Smith will head to Melbourne next week to partner Marc Leishman at the World Cup of Golf before attempting to defend his Australian PGA Championship crown on the Gold Coast before taking a well-earned break.

"There was really no choice for me to have a break so I'll have a pretty decent break after the PGA," he said.

"I probably won't touch a club for a couple of weeks and have Chrissy at home, so I'm looking forward to that."

- AAP

News Corp Australia

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