The Queenslander's round of 5 under 65 leaves he and four others, three shots behind leader, Jon Rahm.
Smith’s impressive start follows on from his best finish at an Open Championship when finishing 20th at Royal Portrush on Sunday and despite missing the cut in his only previous start at this venue he impressed with his fine start today.
A birdie at the 10th (his first hole of the day) came after a fine approach from the fairway bunker and although he would drop a shot two holes later he added five more birdies to be well placed ahead of round two.
Adopting a more natural approach to the game in recent weeks has seen significant improvement from the Queenslander, avoiding an over-technical pattern that has been creeping into his game.
Smith’s hopes of making the International Presidents Cup side could well be influenced by how things develop over the next few weeks and this has been a good start in that regard.
Currently in 8th place in the automatic standings for Royal Melbourne, a continuation of this start might play a key role in him avoiding having to rely on a ‘Captain’s Pick’ by Ernie Els.
The leading eight players in the standings at the completion of the BMW Championship on August 18th secure a place in the International side without sweating on the generosity of Els.
Marc Leishman is tied in 24th place this week after his opening round of 69, Adam Scott had 70 and Jason Day 72.
Rahm continues what has been an excellent run of form of late to lead by three, his most recent starts including an 11th place at Royal Portrush, a win in the Irish Open and a runner-up finish in his homeland of Spain.
In his first visit to this venue at the TPC Southwind he closed with a back nine of 30 for his course record equalling round of 62.
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