Reigning Open champion Cameron Smith feels that it’s important that LIV players put their best foot forward this week to prove to the world that they can still be competitive at golf’s top table, despite conceding that the fields aren’t as strong as they are on the PGA Tour.
“I think it’s just important for LIV guys to be up there because I think we need to be up there,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of chatter about these guys don’t play real golf; these guys don’t play real golf courses. For sure, I’ll be the first one to say, the fields aren’t as strong. I’m the first one to say that.
“But we’ve still got a lot of guys up there that can play some really serious golf, and we compete against each other hard week-in and week-out and we’re trying to do the same things that we did six months ago. It’s nice. It’s a good feeling to have that competition, and it’s good to see Brooks win last week. He’s playing some really good golf again.
“Yeah, I think we just need a good, strong finish.”
Though he was already a three-time PGA Tour winner, last year was a real breakout year for the colourful Aussie, capturing the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the Players Championship before claiming his first major title, but he’s been a regular contender at Augusta National with three top-five finishes to his name.
“I think it reminds me of home in many different ways, I guess,” he said of Alistair MacKenzie’s design. “It allows me to be creative, the firmness and fastness of the greens reminds me a lot of the Sandbelt area and just good memories, I think. I haven’t really had a bad week here in a pretty long time.
“Yeah, so I’m just really looking forward to getting back out there and seeing the new changes. I haven’t seen those yet. I just arrived this morning. So yeah, looking forward to another great week.”
Though he’s yet to win this season, Smith doesn’t feel in any way undercooked coming into the season’s first major and feels that he’ll naturally rise to the challenge, adding that it was good to reconnect with some of the players that he hasn’t seen at a tournament since making the jump to LIV at the end of the summer.
“Yeah, I think before last year’s Masters Tournament, I played four times [he’d actually played five],” he explained. “I played four times this year. I don’t think I’ve necessarily played less before the tournament. I think it’s more to do with my preparation before I started up.
“I feel like I’m tournament-ready. It’s just I’ve got a few tweaks here and there to do, and like I said before, I feel like this course made me find some of those things, and it just comes naturally.
“I spent probably an hour out on the range already this afternoon. It was good to see some familiar faces. Lots of laughs and lots of handshakes, and it was really nice. I really wasn’t sure what I was going to expect walking on to the range but it was good to see some familiar faces and lot of smiles.”
Despite his desire to see LIV players proving their worth this week, Smith claimed that he was unaware of any plans for a joint celebration on the 18th green should one of the 18 LIV entries top the leaderboard on Sunday evening, despite Greg Norman claiming that they would storm the green if one should prevail.
“There definitely hasn’t been a conversation with me,” Smith responded, inciting laughter when he added “if there was one, I definitely got left out of that one.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen, mate, I guess we’ll see how the week unfolds. For sure I’d love to see one of us guys get up to the top of the leaderboard and really give it a nice shot.”
One of the talking points coming into the week was, now being contractually obliged to wear LIV branding on their clothing, what they’d wear at Augusta National and Smith intends to wear his LIV branded apparel unless directed otherwise.
“Yeah, basically. You know, for me personally, I have another set of clothes made up this week without them. We haven’t really heard much from Augusta National about the logos, and for me personally, I’m really proud of where I’m at and what I’m doing. Unless it’s a problem for these guys, I’m going to wear it,” he said, before adding that he’d change into unmarked gear should he get a tap on the shoulder and be directed to do so.
Listen to our Masters & West of Ireland Preview Podcast
Leave a comment