Twice-defending champion Cameron Smith is bidding to create history this week as he seeks a third consecutive Australian PGA Championship title.
“It’s a little bit more stressful. Last week was a big week on and off the golf course, I’m still a little bit tired, but I’m sure tomorrow will hype me up and I will be ready to go. I feel pretty confident in my game, it’s probably the best I’ve felt with my iron play all year – to do it on such a challenging layout last week, against some of the best players in the world, was good. I can’t wait for this week and I’m feeling good.
“I like the golf course, I play well around here. It’s just such a good week for me off the golf course – lots of family and friends, the support is really good throughout the week.
“Last week was very team orientated, which was great, I love being around a team. The team embraced the underdog mentality, but I’ve got a good record around here. I’m feeling really confident with where my game is at. As soon as we were done (at the Presidents Cup), Adam (Scott) said he was coming for me this week. There’s 150 guys this week all wanting the same thing, so it’s going to be tough to get that trophy on Sunday.”
The Australian defeated Jordan Zunic in a play-off in 2017 and finished two strokes ahead of Marc Leishman last year, setting up an historic second title defence at RACV Royal Pines Resort as he bids for a third victory at his national PGA Championship.
Not since Dan Soutar won the first three editions of this historic championship, from 1905-1907, has a player won three consecutive Joe Kirkwood Cups, with the 26-year-old hoping to back up his strong performance at last week’s Presidents Cup with another successful defence on the Gold Coast.
The Australian earned one and a half points for the International side’s cause, including a victory over Major Champion Justin Thomas in the Sunday singles at Royal Melbourne.
The last player to successfully win a European Tour event in three successive years was Tiger Woods, who won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational from 2005 to 2007, while Ernie Els was the last player to win a non-Major or WGC event three years running at the Heineken Classic from 2002-2004.
Race to Dubai
Seeking to put a stop to Smith’s dominance at this event over the last two years is his Presidents Cup teammate and compatriot Adam Scott, who won this event in 2013 – the same year as his Masters triumph.
“My goal is to bring a similar kind of focus that I had going last week to the golf course and try and get my name on that trophy again. I’m feeling good, I started playing nicely last week in Melbourne. When you get those good feelings it’s nice to have another event to play in and I’d like to make the most of that this week. Things were starting to fall into a good spot, so I’ll see if I can carry that on over here and put some good rounds in.
“I’m really pleased with where my golf is from leaving Melbourne, if I can bring some of that out here this week then I think I’ve got a good chance of getting myself in for a chance to win, that sounds fun to me. I’d like to try and take some good momentum into next year.”
Scott returned to the top 20 on the Official World Golf Ranking this year for the first time since 2017, but has not won since the 2016 WGC-Cadillac Championship. The 39-year-old earned two and a half points from five matches at last week’s Presidents Cup.