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Cameron Smith's Trip Down Memory Lane at CIMB

Smith hopes a return to Kuala Lumpur can rekindle great memories. (Photo: Bruce Young)
Three years ago, a then 21-year-old Australian, Cameron Smith, began his journey to the PGA Tour when he finished 5th as an Asian Tour player at the PGA Tour-sanctioned CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur.

That led to a few starts on the PGA Tour, culminating with his 4th placing at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay.

Essentially those two finishes earned Smith the bulk of the money that would earn him the right to play the 2016 PGA Tour courtesy of his non-member money list status and the rest, as they say, is history.

That week at the TPC Kuala Lumpur in 2014 earned Smith US$266,000 and combined with the US$407,000 he earn at the US Open he was on his way to the PGA Tour only two years after turning pro following an amateur career that included an Australian Amateur and two Australian Stroke-Play titles.  

Smith has gone on to retain his card on the PGA Tour since his win at the Zurich Classic teams event this year alongside Jonas Blixt, which cemented his status on the PGA Tour until the end of 2019.

The Queenslander has missed a lot of cuts in 2017 but in recent starts there has been a 12th place finish at the BMW Championship and a 7th place finish at the Wyndham Championship and back at a venue where he has enjoyed such a leg up in his career, must bode well.

Smith will be joined at the Asian Tour co-sanctioned event by fellow Australians Rod Pampling and Scott Hend.

Hend - who fell agonisingly shy of victory at the European Masters in September - has slipped to second on the Asian Tour order of merit behind Gavin Green, who will have a huge following from his home Malaysian fans this week.

Just over US$100,000 separates Green from Hend, who became the first Australian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2016 and was the fourth player to surpass US$1 million in earnings for a single season.

"There are three different things that are quite important for me this week," Hend said. 

"I’ve to try to catch Gavin on the Order of Merit here in Asia, get more world ranking points wise and hopefully get onto the PGA Tour. I've made history by being the first Australian to do that. Gavin's trying to make history, I would say the pressure is on Gavin. I've got a limited schedule here in Asia so I need to take advantage of the opportunities I get. 

"I know this course quite well and I'm quite comfortable playing around here. It's just a matter of managing the heat, which is always a big problem around here."

Justin Thomas is the main man to watch this week as the two-time defending champion at the venue although perhaps the most surprising entrant is Hideki Matsuyama who, instead of defending his Japan Open title this week, is in Malaysia.

It is hard to imagine that Matsuyama's absence in Japan is being well received.  ​



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