‘It’s BS’: Cam Smith pushes back at critics who say LIV pros aren’t playing real golf any more
Cameron Smith plays his second shot on the second hole during the first round of the LIV Golf Invitational - Mayakoba.
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. — Cameron Smith and his fellow LIV Golf players are entering a four-month window in which they can prove, outside of their new tour, that they are still great players. We are, of course, talking about the men’s majors season, which begins next week at Augusta National. At the Masters, 18 LIV players will tee up in what will be the there first time many of those LIV recruits compete in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event on U.S. soil.
And showing they are still elite is exactly what they want to do.
Just ask Smith, whose whirlwind 2022 included winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Players Championship and Open Championship at St. Andrews, before joining LIV and in his second start and claiming a DP World Tour title later in the year.
He and other major winners who left the PGA Tour for LIV, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, have faced criticism that the format of LIV events—54 hole, not cut tournaments with just 48 in the field—the LIV’s spread out schedule has caused them to form come competitive rust.
It’s one of several reasons Smith wants to play well at the Masters, where his stellar record includes a tie for third last year playing in the final group with eventual winner Scottie Scheffler and a tie for second to Johnson in 2020.
“First and foremost for me, I'm trying to go there and play the best golf I can,” Smith said Thursday following his pro-am at LIV Golf’s Orlando tournament, which starts Friday. “Is it important for LIV [golfers to play well at the majors]? … I think it is important for us to go there and really show a high standard of golf, which we know we're all capable of.”
Smith has had a relatively slow start to 2023, admitting he gave himself perhaps too much rest in his LIV offseason. The 29-year-old missed the cut at the Asian Tour’s Saudi International in January, before a sixth place and a 26th place at LIV’s first two events. But there’s no doubting his major credentials, having shot 30 on the back nine to win the 150th Open last year by one shot. He also owns four top-10s at Augusta and a tie for fifth at U.S. Open.
“Most of us [LIV golfers] will get four cracks at it this year [in majors], and hopefully we can get a win out of it,” Smith said. “Maybe we just show a really hearty effort. I think for us, internally, it's the right thing. There's a lot of chatter going around about ‘these guys don't play real golf anymore’ and I think it's BS to be honest and we just want show people that.”
Of the 18 golfers who are playing the 2023 Masters, six are past Masters champions—Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Johnson, Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzel. The others include Smith, Abraham Ancer, DeChambeau, Talor Gooch, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Joaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen, Mito Pereira, Thomas Pieters and Harold Varner III.