The award was made in a virtual ceremony with Smith, who lived in Bray Park and went to Pine Rivers State High School, a surprised recipient.
It completed a remarkable double. At the age of 17, Smith could not think of winning any more prestigious an event than the 2010 Greg Norman Junior Masters.
Ten years later he is world ranked 27 and has completed another major career ambition by winning the prestigious Greg Norman Medal.
In 2020 Smith won his first individual US PGA Tour title at the Sony Open in Hawaii and had his best result in a major championship – sharing the lead at halfway before finishing second to Dustin Johnson in The Masters at Augusta.
Smith then played in the Shark Shootout, with he and Norman advancing their relationship on Instagram over dinner with the 2017 Greg Norman Medal winner Marc Leishman.
Suspicious at the behaviour of his management team Bud Martin and Ian Davis and girlfriend Jordan, Smith only realised his Medal win when Norman’s face appeared on his laptop.
“It was pretty surprising. I was obviously in a bit of shock because I didn’t really know what was going on,” says Smith, now based in Florida on the US PGA Tour.
“My girlfriend and my agent were trying to play a bit of a trick on me and try and surprise me. When Jordan said she had to be on the call as well I thought, that’s weird.
“I was thinking of so many different scenarios – just weird scenarios – and then as soon as the Shark popped up on screen I knew what it was and Jordan had something in her pocket.
“It’s something that has been on the goal list for a few years now. To tick that one off is really nice and I was saying to Bud and Ian, it would be nice to get another four or five before I’m all said and done.”
Although at 27 years of age Smith only caught the tail end of Norman’s extraordinary career, his status in the game was such that anything with the Norman name attached added a sense of gravitas for any young Aussie golfer.
“That’s who we basically grew up watching so at the time I thought that as the biggest tournament in the world,” Smith said of his 2010 Junior Masters win.
“It’s pretty funny to think back like that now and think of those things.”
With an enforced layoff in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic also had an impact on the way he and long-time coach Grant Field communicated.
They had to rely on video and phone calls to make minor adjustments that would yield such a strong finish to the year.
Field and Smith first came into contact when Smith was selected in a junior development squad at 10 years of age, his father Des making the shrewd observation that Field was the right coach to develop his son.
“It was basically my old man’s decision at the start. I was too young to think about what golf was,” Smith says of linking up with Field.
“I was still playing golf and walking around after Dad. He was making all the decisions at that age. I think I was only 10 years old when I first started seeing Grant.
“There’s a lot of stuff in my swing today that we’ve been talking about for 15 years. Which is crazy when you think about it because your body changes so much; everything changes so much.
“On one side it’s really annoying but we know that we’ve got a good thing going and we don’t need to reinvent the wheel to get my swing back to where it needs to be sometimes.
“We generally try and keep everything as simple as possible. He does a good job of dumbing it down for me sometimes.
“We just love each other. When we’re spending time together it’s a bit of a bromance. We love each other’s company, we love hanging out together and we’ve basically got the same interests in life.
“He’s just a good bloke and he knows what he’s talking about, so that’s all the areas ticked. It was obviously a good decision in the end.”
2015: Jason Day
2016: Jason Day
2017: Marc Leishman
2018: Minjee Lee
2019: Hannah Green
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