Sixth-ranked Cameron Smith can feel the difference from the crowds since winning The Players Championship. Now the Australian wants to take the next leap and become a major winner.
The 28-year-old from Brisbane likes his chances at this week's US Open at The Country Club on a typical harsh layout that will force even golf's greatest to grind out a score.
"I love it. It's probably my favorite US Open venue I've been to," Smith said Tuesday. "Lots of options off the tee. Have to strike the ball well. Just a real typical old-school course.
"Lots of chopping out and practicing my wedges for this week so hopefully I can hit some more fairways and make some more birdies."
Smith won the Players in March after taking January's US PGA Tournament of Champions, saying it has boosted his confidence.
"There has a little bit of a different vibe on the golf course as well towards me," Smith said. "Maybe a few more people rooting for me, which is nice. It's something that I'm still getting used to, but I like it."
Smith has three top-five finishes in the past five Masters, including a runner-up effort in 2020 at Augusta National. He shared third this year at the Masters and his share of 13th in last month's PGA Championship at Southern Hills was his best at the event.
"I love the majors. I feel like they bring out the best in me," Smith said. "I love the demand for good play and just the grinding out good scores. I feel like I've had a little bit of success in US Opens before. I feel like this is a really good venue for me."
Smith's best US Open finish was a share of fourth in his 2015 debut at Chambers Bay.
"I would like to think that my game has progressed where I can compete on most golf courses. I just need to hit some more fairways," Smith said.
"That for me, especially out here with rough like this, will be a big part this week. But my iron game is exactly where it needs to be. I'll have plenty of looks at birdie."
Precision will be at a premium over the 7,254-yard layout.
"It's a bit of a second-shot course. Obviously, off the tee it's very demanding as well, but I feel like you need to be smart into the greens," Smith said. "There's plenty of pitch to the greens.
"You need to be underneath the hole, especially as the week goes on. I think the greens will get firmer and faster. Control into the greens is going to be really important."
Smith ignores swirling talk about the players who joined the LIV Golf Series, with the richest purses in golf history, and their ban by the US PGA Tour.
"This week my focus is to play golf," Smith said. "I'm far from the smartest person in the room and I'm not a politician. I'm here to follow a white golf ball around and kind of see what it does."