Cameron Smith, the man of the people, continues his scorching game at the Masters

Cameron Smith, mullet and all, continues to make fans across Augusta National with his laid-back attitude and heaps of birdies.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Walking the ninth fairway in Thursday’s opening round, Cam Smith came to a complete stop.

Out of the corner of his eye, just 50 paces to his right, he spotted the striking man dressed in a bright pink shirt, black pants and a black hat. And so, as most do in the presence of Tiger Woods, Smith dropped what he was doing – who was playing a great deal of golf at, ahem, the Masters – to admire the 46-year-old, 15-time major champion.

“You can’t not watch it,” Smith said. “He is unreal.”

So unreal? Smith’s 68th opening round – one that featured eight birdies, eight pars and two end-of-the-book double bogeys. The 28-year-old Australian, wearing a mullet, shot a 6 on each of the par-4 first and 18th holes. Between the two, it was pure bliss: spotting precise iron shots (he hit 14 of 16 greens in regulation), phenomenal drives (10 of 12 in the fairway) and even a chip-in on the fifth par -4 – his first birdie of the day and the one that started a whole run.

He birdied eight of the next 12 holes, which included the remaining three par-3s: the sixth, 12th and 16th.

Smith did it all while a group stood in front of the main attraction. Like thousands of others on the course, he couldn’t help but watch Woods, 14 months out of reconstructive leg surgery, shoot a 1-under 71. That meant walking away from his own round . So, how are you. Smith was a teenager during Woods’ most dominant run – he’s a big fan.

But that day, Mullet Man defeated Big Cat. Smith is continuing what has been a torrid start to his 2022 season. He has won twice – at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and his last time, the Players Championship. He has two other top-10 finishes and only missed one of seven cups.

He’s worked his way up to world No. 6 (with a chance this week of reaching No. 1), and he’s had more birdies (19) than pars (12) in his last 38. holes.

Which give? A new exercise program. In fact, after Thursday’s round and despite hiking some 11,000 steps through Augusta National, Smith planned to return home for a 30-minute ride on a stationary bike. His training regimen is part cardio and part weightlifting, exemplified by his slim and wiry figure.

“My body moves a little faster when I don’t have so much around my stomach,” he laughs. “I’m able to get off the golf course and not get destroyed. That’s why my game has become consistent.

Over the past year or so, Smith has endeared himself to the American golf public. He is humble, calm and simple.

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He carries within him an all-man style. Like the rest of us, he has to work to keep the weight off his thin frame. He looks at Tiger like we do too. And he’s proclaimed in the past that he has few hobbies and doesn’t really know what to do with all the money he makes (he took in about $5.7 million in winnings during past seven months).

This hairstyle is also a topic of conversation. Shoulder-length blonde locks pop out of a short front. Business up front, party in the back, some would say.

He visits his barber about once a month to style the shaggy back. He has it prepared and ready for this week.

“It’s probably the cleanest in quite a while,” he said.

And his game too. No one should be too surprised. At the November 2020 Masters, Smith became the first player in tournament history to shoot all four rounds in the 60s (he finished second, five shots behind Dustin Johnson).

“He’s just built for big tournaments,” fellow Australian Geoff Ogilvy recently said of him. “He must be really full of confidence.”

Smith says he likes Augusta’s course, and he admits he guessed right a few times in a swirling wind Thursday. More wind is expected on Friday. Fortunately, no more rain is forecast. Augusta saw torrential downpours for most of the day Tuesday, off and Wednesday and Thursday morning, but Smith called the course conditions “incredible” despite the drenching.

At noon Thursday, the sky cleared, the sun shone and the wind whipped. It helped put some teeth into a soggy course. Smith only felt his bite on Nos. 1 and 18, where errant tee shots dragged the pair down doubles.

Oddly enough, one of the best laps of the day came from the smaller group. The Masters are putting players into trios the first two rounds, but Smith and Bryson DeChambeau played as a duo after their third, Paul Casey, pulled out with back problems.

The Smith-DeChambeau duo played fast enough to find themselves waiting for the upcoming trio to clear. This gave the Mullet Man plenty of time to watch the Big Cat.

“I almost felt like a patron at times today,” Smith said.

A client who shot 4 under par.

More Masters coverage from Morning Read:

– Tiger Woods dazzles in front of the “electric” crowd
– Thursday, there was Tiger and all the others
– Woods’ first ride was both vintage and new-age

– Cam Smith, man of the people, is a man on fire
– Sungjae Im leads after Thursday like no other
– Varner soaks up first round at Augusta National
– Round 2 Tee Times: Tiger Woods to start at 1:41 ET

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