Cameron Smith isn’t boosting his expectations for 2022 after winning the PGA Tournament of Champions, even though his last triumph in Hawaii came ahead of a major runner-up showing.
The 28-year-old Australian outfought Spain’s top-ranked Jon Rahm down the stretch on Sunday to capture the event in Maui ahead of his start on Thursday in the Sony Open in Hawaii at Honolulu.
“Game felt really good coming down the stretch there with one of the best golfers in the world,” Smith said. “To match up with him was something I’ll never forget.
“It’s flying but I’m ready for tomorrow. I’m ready to get back into it.”
Cameron, who fired a PGA Tour record 34-under par to win at Kapalua, won the 2020 Sony crown and in November delivered his best major finish by sharing second at the Masters behind Dustin Johnson.
Cameron has risen to a career-best 10th in the world rankings and with three top-10 efforts at Augusta National in the past four years, it might seem like the perfect moment to lift his sights. But he’s not.
“I’ve never really wanted to expect anything of myself,” Smith said Wednesday. “I’ve always been a process kind of guy. I feel like if I tick all the boxes I’m going to play some good golf. I definitely want to play well but I never really expect too much of myself.”
He won’t set goals like reaching the top five in the rankings or boosting his win total from six, four on the US tour, and two at the Australian PGA Championship.
“I think just play for the time being,” Smith said. “I haven’t had a lot of time to obviously process it at the moment. Maybe in a week or two, I’ll be able to sit down and really go through some stuff and definitely set some more goals.
“I’ve learned a lot from that, just being content and not really ticking all the boxes.”
Smith has improved his diet and fitness for the campaign.
“It was just something that I needed to do. I’m not getting any younger,” Smith said. “I know I’m still only 28, but I need to start looking after my body and I need to start putting the right stuff in it as well.”
The victory boosted his confidence off the tee for tougher conditions and tighter fairways this week at Waialae Country Club.
“It feels good to be confident with the driver,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of 3-woods and iron shots as well, so yeah, it’s a tricky little place, this one, but I love it.”
Smith will play alongside Americans Talor Gooch and Kevin Na in the first two rounds. Na is defending champion and Gooch won last November’s RSM Classic for his first PGA title.