Players’ champ Cam Smith attributes grit to watching rugby as a child

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Cameron Smith - TheGolfingHub
Cameron Smith's approach on the final day of The Players showed what champions are made of. Photo: sportscasting.com

In conversation with 2022 Players Championship winner Cameron Smith. Excerpts.

Cam Smith, 2022 PLAYERS champion. Thank you for joining us here in the interview room. Quite a long week here at TPC Sawgrass and certainly a roller coaster of a final round for you today.

Cameron Smith: Yeah, it was obviously a long week. Yeah, today I think I just kind of held in there today. Lots of birdies, kept staying aggressive, kept trying to make birdies, and went through a little bit of a lull there in the middle, I guess. And yeah, just bounced back really nice and proud of the way I hung in there.

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What was your heart doing when the ball was in the air going towards the flag at 17? What was your heart doing when the ball was going towards the water on 18?

Smith: I mean, on 17 I hit a really good shot. The wind didn’t quite hit it as much as what I thought it was going to. Kind of left it alone there for a long time and just kind of helped me out there at the end. I’d be lying if I said I was aiming there. I was probably aiming 10 feet left of that. But still wanted to stay aggressive, still wanted to make birdie.

 

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18, just a hole for me that doesn’t really suit my eye. I like to work the ball left to right off the tee. That’s where I feel comfortable, and I feel as though I can’t hit that shot down there. Just haven’t quite figured that hole out. Driver, just because I just wanted to get it down there as far as I could basically. If it did turn over, I was going to have a short shot in, and it just didn’t quite turn over.

I’m assuming you last saw your family after Presidents Cup.

Smith: Yeah.

You’ve talked outside so much about chill time this week, hang time, golf kind of a second priority. Do you think that helped you in terms of expectations, or do you even have any expectations at any event?

Smith: I’ve never been one to expect much of myself. My expectations are I wake up, go to the gym, practice as hard as I can for a couple hours, and then go and have a good time. That’s it basically every day. My expectation is to prepare well and then kind of let everything fall into place from there.

 

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How do you think seeing them this week helped or didn’t?

Smith: Yeah, I’m not sure if it did or not. It was nice having some company at home, I guess, in the rain delays. Last week we spent a lot of time just kind of hanging out, showing them around Jacksonville. They obviously knew I had to play this week so they weren’t really expecting much, but it’s nice to come out here and play well for them.

In Atlanta you told us that you don’t know what you would do with $15 million. What are you going to do with $3.6 million?

Smith: Yeah, I don’t know. (Chuckling.) I really don’t. I don’t have an answer for that. It hasn’t sunk in. That’s a lot of money. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it.

 

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Everyone has been trying to understand the Australian term of essentially toughness. Can you describe as best you can what it means to be a Queenslander and what it is about you guys that have got you where you are today?

Smith: I think it’s probably just never give up. I grew up watching rugby league and watching the Queenslanders come from behind, and even when it got gritty they’d somehow manage to win. I think that’s kind of instilled in all of us.

 

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Who in your family, if anyone, do you think you inherited your mental toughness from?

Smith: Yeah, I don’t know. I think both sides of my family, my mum and my dad’s side. Both have – just both mentally strong. They’re working class people who have had to work their whole life to live basically, and yeah, I guess that’s just kind of what I grew up in.

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