As wildfires rage in Australia, countryman Cameron Smith raises money during Sony Open
Last week, with the bush fires spreading across Australia, Cameron Smith announced a generous pledge to help the relief efforts.
The 26-year-old Aussie pledged $500 for each birdie and $1,000 for each eagle he'd make at this week's Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Heading into the weekend, Smith sits T-3 at 5 under, one shot off the lead held by Brendan Steele and fellow Australian Cameron Davis. His pledge has been a massive motivator this week, and through two rounds, Smith has made 12 birdies, totaling $6,000 dollars in relief with "plenty more birdies" to come.
Smith flew to Hawaii straight from Australia, where he saw first-hand the damage being done. He has an uncle in New South Wales, who lost everything.
"Where I was in Brisbane it's probably less affected than the areas down south, like New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, they're all not doing too good," explained Smith. "It's pretty tragic to see. I flew into Sydney to come here, and we probably couldn't see – usually from Sydney airport you can see downtown, the Sydney skyline. You couldn't see that. The smoke was pretty bad."
Focusing on winning a tournament is hard enough, let alone trying to keep in contact with friends and family in the middle of a disaster. After his rounds, the Brisbane native has been checking his phone, watching the news, anything to keep in touch.
General view of the Dunn Road fire on January 10, 2020 in Mount Adrah, Australia. About 1,995 homes have been destroyed and another 816 have been damaged across New South Wales.
"Like I said, in Brisbane where most of the family is isn't so bad," said Smith. "But, yeah, got heaps of friends down there that are all in the midst of it. Yeah, just send them my thoughts and hoping they all stay safe."
Smith said while his pledge is motivating, he's focused on the tournament, looking for his first solo PGA Tour win. His only win on Tour came in 2017 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans alongside Jonas Blixt.
"I'm just trying to do my thing, and that's probably the best way to raise as much money as I can for the fires back home," said Smith.
This level of form this early in the season is unusual for Smith, but with the Presidents Cup and Australian PGA Championship just weeks ago, he's been able to keep his game in shape.
"In past years I've had three weeks, four weeks off before I get (to Hawaii), and I'm typically pretty lazy when I'm home, eating pies and all that stuff," said Smith, who went 1-1-1 in his Presidents Cup debut and finished T-10 at the Australian PGA. "So it's actually been quite good in the fact that I've been able to kind of carry over and I played really well at the Presidents Cup and played again the next week quite solidly."
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