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Smith in push for US Open

Big challenge: Bermuda golfer Smith

Camiko Smith, the Bermuda golfer, heads to the United States today to make another bid to qualify for the US Open, which will be held next month at the Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania.

Smith is one of nearly 10,000 players hoping to qualify for the US Open, the third highest in tournament history.

The 2014 Open at Pinehurst had the highest number of qualifiers, with 10,127 hopefuls vying for spots.

Smith, who had two failed bids in 2014 and 2015 when he made it to the sectionals, is confident going into his 18-hole local qualifying round at Long Meadow Country Club in Massachusetts on Monday. The top three or five finishers are expected to advance to the sections, another round of qualifying. After the sectional qualifying is the US Open.

“The last two years I made it to the sectionals which is the next stage,” said Smith, 30.

“Sometimes they give you three spots, sometimes five spots but if you win it you are guaranteed a spot.

“Last year and the year before I got through in the top three. My past results have been really good so it’s something to go off and I’m just looking to make the breakthrough and get past the sectionals.

“The local qualifying is a one-day shoot-out and sectionals are usually 36 holes in one day.”

Smith has been on the island for the past few months working to raise funds and improving his game.

“My game’s feeling pretty good, working on my putting and a few other things and it’s falling into place and I just need it to happen at the right time,” he said. “Hopefully it happens on Monday.”

“I actually flew out for two weeks to go and work on some stuff with my coach in January and have been back since, working at Newstead [Belmont Hills Golf Resort and Spa] so that I can make some money to fund my trips.

“I’m still plugging away at it, working hard on my fitness and my game and I’m feeling good. [After Long Meadows] I’ll be back in Bermuda to get more funds so that I can travel abroad to play in more tournaments to get ready for the Web.com qualifying which is later in the year, late September, October.

“The Web.com is the step to get to the PGA Tour and my ultimate goal is to get on the PGA Tour, but you have to go to the Web.com qualifying first.”

Despite the challenges, Smith is determined to follow through with his goals.“Realistically I would like to be out there full-time, in the environment with top players which is where you need to be,” he said.

“It would be nice to be abroad full-time and improving my game, which is what happened over the last two years when I raised my game. I have a buddy who just got his PGA Tour card and he turned 36 so it’s never too late. “Everybody’s time comes when it’s ready and I’m just giving it a shot now while I’m still young. I’m still pushing at it. If you want to play against the best you have to throw yourself in there and go up against them.” According to the USGA, entries for qualification to the US Open were accepted from golfers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 72 foreign countries.

To be eligible, a player must have a handicap of 1.4 or lower, or be a professional. Local qualifying, which will be played over 18 holes at 111 sites in the United States, are taking place until May 19.

Among this season’s submissions are 50 players, including 12 past champions, who are fully exempt into the field.

“The number of entries received underlines the global appeal of the US Open Championship and the historical greatness of Oakmont Country Club,” said Stuart Francis, USGA championship committee chairman.

“We look forward to conducting local and sectional qualifying and to hosting the US Open at Oakmont for a record ninth time on June 16-19.”