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Camiko Smith finishes joint sixth in Detroit qualifier

Camiko Smith (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Camiko Smith produced a solid display on his debut in the John Shippen National Invitational at the historic Detroit Golf Club in Michigan.

The professional finished tied for sixth among the field of 21 players after carding an even-par 144 over two rounds.

“It wasn’t my best ball-striking by far, but I managed and I’m pleased with my score,” Smith said.

“I’m feeling good but need to get off the tee better, hit more fairways and sharpen up my iron shots into the greens to give myself a chance at more birdie putts.”

Smith shot an opening-round 73, which left him two shots behind leader and eventual winner Timothy O’Neal at the halfway stage of the 36-hole qualifier for the PGA Tour Rocket Mortgage Classic.

He got off to a flying start after rolling in back-to-back birdies on the 2nd and 3rd holes.

However, Smith lost momentum after dropping shots at the 7th and 9th holes to make the turn at even par.

His fortunes then took another turn for the worst when he bogeyed two of the first four holes on the back nine after missing the fairway to move to two over.

But after refocusing and tightening up his ball-striking, Smith managed to play the remaining five holes at one under, rattling in a third birdie of the round at the penultimate hole.

“Unfortunately none of the players were able to get a practice round in due to the course being flooded, so we basically played the first round blind,” Smith said.

At just two shots off the lead, Smith remained in the hunt going into the second round.

He got off to another good start after making birdie at the first hole.

However, he lost momentum after carding bogeys at the 2nd and 7th holes before a birdie at the par-four 8th left him at level par at the turn for the second straight day.

Smith dipped to two under after rolling in back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th. He dropped a stroke at the par-four 16th but managed to steady the ship the rest of the way to sign off with a one-under 71 that left him at even par for the tournament named after John Shippen Jr, the first American-born golf professional and first Black golf professional.

O’Neal won the 36-hole event by two shots and with it the sole spot up for grabs for exemption into the Rocket Mortgage Classic to be held at the same venue starting tomorrow.

“With all the rain and flooding that Detroit has had, there is some standing water on the course,” Smith said.

“Other than that, the course is in great condition and I’m sure it will be in greater shape for the [tournament].

“Sommer Woods and Jason Langwell with their team have done an amazing job with organising and getting this event off the ground.”

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Published June 29, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated June 28, 2021 at 9:41 pm)

Camiko Smith finishes joint sixth in Detroit qualifier

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