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Confident Smith focused on US Open

Mentally tough: Smith has made it through to the sectional qualifying

Stronger mentally and with his game improving by the day Camiko Smith will attempt to qualify for the US Open next month.

The Bermuda golfer has made it through to sectional qualifying at Woodmont Country Club for the second straight year.

Last year Smith struggled to a 12-over-par 156 at the Maryland course, this time, however, he feels better equipped to make it through to the second major of the season.

“I have been working hard for this qualifier, so getting past the first stage is great, but that’s just the first part of it,” Smith said. “I have to continue to press forward and keep working hard, and get through the sectionals.”

The hard work, both mental and physical, has seen Smith rising at 4am to hit the gym, focus on his game with Fred Griffin, at Grand Cypress Golf Academy, and work on his confidence with Doctor Bernie Jensen, a sports psychologist, at the University of Central Florida.

Griffin, who Smith has been working with for the past two years, is considered one of the top coaches in the United States and Smith credits him with providing the adjustments that he said had improved his overall game.

“My ball striking has gotten better, I’ve gained a few yards, my confidence has definitely gotten better, and my overall game has just improved a lot from last year,” Smith said.

“There wasn’t much to do, he [Griffin] just fine-tuned a couple of things, and that was that. Just working with my short game to become more consistent.”

Mentally, Smith has worked on his belief in himself, something he said left him feeling “just more confident”.

“[It’s about] having the belief that I can do this, [knowing] it’s definitely possible to achieve it, and just going out to achieve it,” he said.

Despite the score he posted last time out at Woodmont, Smith does not believe he was that far away from getting the three-under he believes will be good enough to qualify this time around. The experience taught him not only patience, but that “par is my friend, and par-5s my best friend”.

Smith has reason to feel confident, the one-under he posted at Alpine Country Club came courtesy of birdies on the two par-5 holes, Woodmont has four. His only concern will be not knowing how many spots will be available until the morning of the sectional on June 8.

“They tell you on the first tee,” Smith said. “Knowing what to expect [from the course] will help, but you’ve just got to go play and shoot a low number.”

Back in Bermuda for a couple of weeks to work on his game, Smith continues to be grateful to the people on and off Island who are helping him chase his dreams.

“I would like to thank my sponsors Rockwell Golf and Rockwell Watches, Apex Physio, Bermuda Ocean Explorers and Port Royal Golf Course,” he said. “I also want to extend my warmest gratitude to those private individuals that have supported me on my journey, I couldn’t have come this far without them.”