Smith runs hot at US PGA Tour event

Darren WaltonAAP
Cameron Smith opened the new PGA season with a six-under 66 at the CJ Cup.
Camera IconCameron Smith opened the new PGA season with a six-under 66 at the CJ Cup. Credit: AP

Cameron Smith has hit the ground running in his opening round of the new US PGA Tour season, firing a six-under-par 66 at the CJ Cup in Las Vegas.

The recharged Australian No.1 reeled off seven birdies, with his only blemish coming at the par-4 17th hole.

Sharing seventh spot, five shots behind American leader Robert Streb, Smith said five weeks off had renewed his enthusiasm after a gruelling 2020-21 campaign.

"I feel like just some fresh legs and a fresh mind is probably a big key," he said.

"I didn't feel like I really had my best stuff out there today, but the way I handled some mistakes was really good.

"Towards the end of the year I would have been frustrated and carried it on."

Smith birdied six of the first 14 holes at the Summit Club.

"You really need to get off to a good start. That's pretty key around here.

"The first seven or eight holes are pretty gettable, I believe, and then after that it gets pretty tricky, especially with the wind and the altitude."

No one negotiated the first few holes better than Streb during his spectacular 11-under 61.

In an incredible start, Streb had an eagle and five birdies to be seven under through his first six holes.

Streb eventually wound up one stroke in front of Keith Mitchell, with fellow American Harry Higgs two shots further back at eight under.

Spanish star Sergio Garcia, Norwegian Viktor Hovland and American Hudson Swafford are tied fourth after returning seven-under 65s.

Smith was among a bunch of players to shoot 66, including Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and three-time major winner Jordan Spieth.

Adam Scott and Cam Davis, who birdied four of the last five holes, were the next best Australians after signing for 68s, with Marc Leishman and Matt Jones both going around in 70.

In his first start of the season, former world No.1 Jason Day blew a strong start to post a one-over 73.

Day was three under through seven holes before taking a triple-bogey eight at the par-5 14th to be tied 73rd in the 78-player, no-cut event.

He wasn't the only big name to struggle.

World No.2 Dustin Johnson is equal fourth last after posting a two-over 74.

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