Cameron Smith leads RBC Heritage after career-low 62

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Cameron Smith, of Australia, watches his drive off the 10th tee during the first round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Thursday, April 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Cameron Smith birdied the difficult 17th and 18th holes at Harbour Town to shoot a 9-under 62, his career low on the PGA Tour, and take a one-shot lead over Stewart Cink at the RBC Heritage on Thursday.

Cink finished his 63 around lunchtime and no one appeared likely to beat that score in overcast, breezier afternoon conditions. Yet Smith played his best down the challenging stretch.

The Australian chipped in for birdie on the par-3 17th, then stuck his approach to the lighthouse finishing hole within 5 feet to take the lead. Smith surpassed his previous low of 63, accomplished three times on tour.

The 47-year-old Cink shot his lowest score in 75 career rounds at Harbour Town — not bad, considering he won here in 2000 and 2004.

Collin Morikawa, who will defend his PGA Championship title up the South Carolina coast next month, shot 65 along with Matt Wallace. Charles Howell III, Billy Horschel and Harold Varner III shot 66.

Smith is coming off a tie for 10th at the Masters, his second strong finish in five months at Augusta National. He was runner-up to Dustin Johnson last November.

“I feel like Augusta really gets my mind going, my creativity going,” he said.

Smith got a free drop after his second shot to the par-5 15th was near a temporary structure and played it to 3 feet for birdie. He missed the fairway and the green on the 16th before pitching to 6 feet to save par.