Chris Smith's life is on the mend
Given that Sin City can be a never-ending sea of casinos and nightclubs, anyone heading on an annual PGA Tour sojourn to Las Vegas can find it to be a glance into the darker side of mankind.
Fortunately, once the TPC Summerlin for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open began last week, the Vegas world would brighten. There was a warm encounter with an unbreakable human spirit – Chris Smith was in the house.
More accurately, he was on the golf course, a Monday qualifier. No shame in that. And it was good for the soul to hear that Smith’s life is on the mend.
“Everything happens for a reason. This is where I’m supposed to be,” Smith said. “There’s some kind of plan. I just don’t know what it is.”
On Father’s Day of June 2009, Smith’s world changed forever. His wife, Beth, was killed and his two children, Abigail and Cameron, injured in a car crash in Northern Indiana.
That old adage that time heals all wounds? Smith smiled, then shook his head. “No. It doesn’t. I think time changes wounds more than it heals them. But I’m in a much better place (than before).”
Two years ago, Smith re-married, and he reports that his children (Abigail is 20, Cameron 16) “are doing better.” What’s more, his desire for golf and competition has been rekindled. He had played only 17 PGA Tour events since that horrific day (none in 2013), and Smith had little desire to chase it. Now, at 44, he does.
“My skills are still good. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m good mentally again,” said Smith. “I still hit the ball hard and still hit it well.”
Problem is, it’s a different PGA Tour. The winner of the 2002 Buick Classic does not have status and sponsor exemptions “are nearly impossible” to land. So he’ll try Monday qualifiers.
After opening with a 2-over 73, Smith got off to a rough start in Round 2, but with wife Trish and son Cameron having flown out for the occasion, he showed them some of his old form. He played his last 10 holes in 5 under before missing the cut.
Cameron Smith, who years earlier used to travel on Tour – becoming friends with the children of J.J. Henry, Stewart Cink and Jerry Kelly, among others – relished watching Dad’s hot run. “He was super excited. He misses it like I do,” said Smith.
As for the missed cut? Easy to keep in perspective.
“I’m not discouraged at all,” Smith said. “I’m not sure how that can be possible, but I’m really not discouraged.”
Better days await him.