Ryan Moore. Sergio Garcia. Gary Woodland. Kevin Na. Cameron Smith. Cameron Smith?
A look at the CIMB Classic's final leader board may have drawn that reaction from even avid golf fans, but there's a good chance it's just a matter of time before Smith becomes a household name. The 21-year-old Australian, not to be confused with the Australian rugby star of the same name, has quickly adjusted to life as a pro.
Smith, the 2013 Australian Amateur champ, is currently fourth on the 2014 Asian Tour's Order of Merit having rattled off six consecutive top-10 finishes. And now his T-5 in a PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament over the weekend earned Smith his biggest paycheck to date ($266,000) and a spot in this week's Sanderson Farms Championship. It also gave him a rare feat.
According to GolfChannel.com, Smith is the first player to finish in the top 10 of a PGA Tour event in his debut since Chris Wood's T-5 at the 2008 British Open. In fact, other than Smith and Wood, only Anthony Kim (T-2 at the 2006 Valero Texas Open) and Andres Romero (T-8 at 2006 British Open) have picked up top-10 finishes in their tour debuts since 2000. Others, like Russell Henley, who won the 2013 Sony Open, have fared better in their pro debut on the PGA Tour, but they had competed previously in tour events as amateurs.
What does it mean for Smith's future? Who knows. But he's 21 and he just finished T-5 in his first big event. Not bad. Smith has a long way to accomplish his goal "to follow in the footsteps of Greg Norman and Adam Scott," but this was an encouraging start.