Cameron Smith—the 2022 Players defending champion—is barred from competing at TPC Sawgrass this week due to his participation in LIV Golf, but the Jacksonville, Fla., resident is not letting that stop him from playing golf in the area.
According to Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch, Smith played a nine-hole course called The Yards on Thursday, which is located just a five-minute drive from the gates of TPC Sawgrass’s Stadium Course. Smith was joined by friends and took photos with fans at the local municipal track.
It is one thing for the defending champion to be missing from the field at TPC Sawgrass, but the situation is all the more uncomfortable because of Smith’s Jacksonville residency. He’s lived in the area since 2016.
“Yes, it’s awkward,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan during a press conference on Wednesday. “But you know, ultimately that’s a decision he made, and we’ve got an unbelievable field here this week and a history and tradition that one of these 144 is going to go seek to get.”
In a Golf.com video posted earlier this week, Smith admitted that he’ll tune in to watch the event on TV and he might even try to join the crowds on-site at TPC Sawgrass. Although there have been no Smith sightings yet, now it is clear that he does indeed still plan to stay in the area for the championship.
The Australian left the PGA Tour to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league late last summer. Smith made the move just one month after his British Open victory at St. Andrews, and at the time he was the No. 2-ranked player in the world. Smith captains the all-Australian LIV Golf team, Punch GC. Last September, he took the individual victory at LIV’s Chicago event.
Smith is one of 31 players in the 2022 Players Championship field who joined LIV Golf last year. All top three finishers in 2022—Smith, Anirban Lahiri and Paul Casey—joined the breakaway tour and are banned from this year’s competition.
Source : SI