Cameron Smith was walking the St. Andrews greens as the Champion Golfer of the Year for the British Open five days earlier.
On Friday, he drove through the Florida coastal waters among the outdoor enthusiasts of the Sunshine State and came very close to winning again.
Smith, Billy Horschel, and a championship golf team led the pack early in the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament on Friday at Jim King Park in Sisters Creek, but not at the finish line.
The day’s biggest catch, however, was a 49.77-pounder caught by Joseph Shugart’s crew aboard the St. Augustine-based One Time, while Tommy Rady and the Salt Life Food Shack crew ultimately won the two-fish aggregate category after Smith and Horschel’s team led for more than an hour in the afternoon.
At the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament on July 22, 2022 at Jim King Park at Sisters Creek, David Nelson (left) and Steve Strickland, crew members on Joseph Shugart’s boat One Time, react as they learn the weight of their 49.67-pound kingfish, the eventual winner. Florida Times-Union/Clayton Freeman
Less than a week after shooting a perfect 64 in the final round at St. Andrews, Jacksonville resident Smith was back on the First Coast, teaming with seven-time PGA Tour champion Horschel and a group of course aces to finish sixth overall.
Smith, who won this week on the turf as well, came close to winning in the surf. The crew, which has Brandon Arthurs listed as its captain for the competition, weighed in two fish weighing 29 pounds shortly after 3 p.m. to take the lead at 59.27 pounds.
Horschel, who had caught a 29.82-pound fish in the middle of the morning, found that the learning curve was easy.
Horschel, whose own week at the Old Course was not too shabby, said, “Cam fishes a lot more than I do, the boys fish a lot more than I do, but, yeah, this is by far my biggest kingfish because I’ve never caught one.” At 5 under, he tied for 21st place and earned $120,286 in prize money.
According to Horschel, Terry Kelly, the father of Matt Kelly, the caddie for Australian PGA Tour golfer Marc Leishman, caught the second kingfish for the Smith crew, weighing in at 29.45 pounds.
Horschel still has unforgettable memories from the experience, despite Friday’s sixth-place aggregate prize of $1,500 being a far cry from the $2.5 million that Smith received for his victory at St. Andrews.
Billy Horschel of the PGA Tour and a second crew member react as their fish’s weight is shown on a screen during the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament on July 22, 2022 at Jim King Park in Sisters Creek. Florida Times-Union/Clayton Freeman
He said, “This is pretty cool. This is something I don’t do all the time, so I think we all enjoyed ourselves. ” he said.
The golfers’ catches appeared to be potential championship material for a while. The Smith team was in the lead in the overall standings until Lyle Rose of Hilliard, aboard Cherokee Rose, overtook them at around 4:30 p.m. with a pair of fish weighing a combined 65.28 pounds. With catches of 39.80 and 31.83 pounds, Rady and the Salt Life Food Shack team won the $12,000 total prize. This impressive total of 71.63 pounds was the result of their combined catches.
Rady reported that the bite “was pretty good all day.”
In the big-fish championship, Shugart quickly put an end to the suspense.
The third catch to be weighed in, Shugart’s, was an enormous kingfish weighing nearly 50 pounds that held up admirably throughout the entire day. No additional fish even exceeded the 40-pound threshold.
Just after 10 a.m., the crew managed to capture the king after a 15 to 20 minute battle. They knew the big-fish title and the prize of a new boat as part of a package worth an estimated $160,000 appeared within reach once they had the fish on board.
One of the crew members, David Nelson, who weighed in the catch, said, “We fish all over, travel all over, the Keys, North Carolina, Biloxi. We have caught a lot of large fish, and we were aware that we were in the race.
The first fish of the day was brought closest to Shugart’s team by Mike Strickland’s crew shortly after the weigh-in tent opened at 3 p.m. Under the single-day fishing format, that fish, which was brought to the scales by Andrew Runyon and Bruce Brown, took the early lead at 40.81 pounds and came in second.
Runyon recalled that for a while during a taxing 30-minute morning fight, the crew was unaware of the size of the fish.
We were unable to see him for 25 minutes before he finally approached and gave us a broadside view, according to Runyon. “So, yeah, when we saw it, we were really excited.”
With a catch of 27.49 pounds, Kaylee Canady of Jacksonville won the Lady Angler category.
Because of the global rise in gasoline prices, which is now beginning to subside, this year’s general tournament was the first to be held over just one day in almost ten years.
Officials of the competition reported 343 entries in total for the one-day competition.