Former Masters champion Adam Scott has little sympathy for LIV players who may well miss out on some major events over the next couple of years due to their world ranking.
Ahead of this week’s Sony Open, Scott was asked specifically about Olympic qualification and how it relates to the Australian team for the Games in Paris, 2024.
Many observers would argue that based on last season’s results, Open Champion and Players Champion, Cam Smith is the best player in the world. Such was his form, Smith still sits third on the world golf rankings despite switching to LIV Golf last August.
The 29-year old joined the Saudi-backed circuit, claiming it would allow him more time back home in Australia, with fellow Aussies Marc Leishman and Matt Jones following suit. Yet with no OWGR points to play for on the LIV circuit, exactly how the likes of Smith could qualify to wear the green and gold in Paris next year remains to be seen.
Scott, however, says the likes of Smith knew the risks when they signed on the dotted line with the Saudis, but accepts the situation isn’t ideal.
“I think it would be unfortunate; however, again, like everyone said, they’ve made their decisions and some of those decisions — well, that decision may come with some sacrifice in the short or long-term,” Scott said.
“In the short-term it was sacrificing the ability to have world ranking points. If they didn’t know that, then they’re realising that’s the case at the moment. So I think it would be unfortunate, yes, for Australia and their team.
“But, you know, Cam also made these decisions as did Leish and Matt Jones and any other Aussie who has gone on there. There may be some sacrifice. Seems like they’re okay with living with that mostly, at least the Aussies seem that way.”
Smith could at least breathe a huge sigh of relief when Augusta National confirmed that any player already exempted could compete in the Masters in 2023. As a past champion, Scott has his place at the Champions Dinner table for life, an evening he describes as the best of the year and one he wouldn’t be willing to risk on an ill-advised move.
“It’s the best evening of the year,” Scott said, who recently crossed $60 million in on-course career earnings.
“Generally I sit next to Trevor [Immelman] most years. We have been mates since we were junior golfers, and after my year of hosting the top of the table, I quickly bee-lined that next dinner down to Trevor’s corner to post up next to him.
“He sits on my left most years and Mark O’Meara sits on my right. Also, it’s not assigned seating, but a lot people sit in the same chairs. I like that, to be perfectly honest. I like the fact that you kind of feel like that’s your spot. I enjoy the whole thing. I enjoy hearing what everyone has to say that evening.
“Like Fred Couples does a great job needling some of the older players into telling stories. He’s a very good facilitator, Freddy, of those kind of things. It’s good fun. I get to share it now. Now I’ve been out here so long a lot of these guys I consider friends, and I get to share the evening with a few friends.
“Even leading up to this, I often see Zach Johnson like in the workout trailer or something a month away and we both are already excited about Tuesday night.”
As for one of Scott’s more memorable past Champions Dinners:
“Bernhard Langer getting sat down by Billy Payne at one dinner was a memorable one for me. Having a suggestion about something. (Laughter.) Kind of was a mood killer one night. Good stuff!
Asked to elaborate, Scott added; “I can’t remember the details now, but that was the gist of it. You can sit down!”
Fortunately, the story is already out there! It goes that during dessert, the German two-time Masters champ suggested how the 14th hole could be improved, explaining that he didn’t think the tee-shot was pleasing on the eye and the green was too severe.
“This is not the time or place for this kind of discussion,” Payne supposedly interrupted.
“Then when is a good time?” Langer asked.
“Write a letter,” Payne said sharply before banging the table and announcing, “This dinner is adjourned!”