England's Smith and Scotland's Syme were two shots clear, with the latter looking to make up for his near miss at Celtic Manor last week when he led after 54 holes before finishing tied third.
Here is everything you need to know from Thursday's action in south Wales.
Smith benefits from missed cut
The 27-year-old Smith has made eight cuts in nine appearances this season but believes that his rare weekend off at the Hero Open three weeks ago has benefited his game. “I did a lot of work in lockdown and the missed cut at Forest of Arden was probably a blessing in disguise,” he said. “We’d probably gone a bit too far with what we were working on with the swing and just getting it back more neutral.”
Syme on course for Winged Foot
Both of Syme's previous Major appearances came at the Open Championship, but his next one is likely to be on the other side of the Atlantic. The top ten players on the UK Swing Order of Merit at the end of the week will qualify for the U.S. Open, with Syme starting the week in ninth. Five of the ten places are already secured and Syme could well make that six if he maintains his fine recent form.
Celtic Manor bites back
The 2010 Ryder Cup venue had 68 players break par over four rounds last week. There were only 25 men in the red come close of play on Thursday, with strong winds and soft fairways creating a stiff test. The blustery conditions are forecast to continue on Friday.
Bjørn back in action
So it wasn't quite Wentworth to Wales part two, but the fact Thomas Bjørn managed to complete 18 holes of golf so soon after his mammoth charity walk is still impressive. The former Ryder Cup captain produced a four over 75.
Celebrations delayed and denied
Matthew Southgate's chip in from the bunker was majestic. His reaction wasn't.
At least the Englishman got to celebrate, unlike Brandon Stone, who was denied by a matter of inches.