Cameron Smith has rubbished suggestions that he and fellow LIV Golf defectors won’t factor at the Masters and received a glowing endorsement of his credentials from former champion Adam Scott.
Critics have questioned Smith’s ability to continue contending on the sport’s biggest stages, fearing the 2022 British Open champion may have lost competitive edge while only playing sparingly and against weaker fields over 54 holes.
Smith, though, says that’s ‘B.S’.
‘There’s a lot of chatter going around about ‘these guys don’t play real golf anymore’. And I think it’s B.S. to be honest. And we just want to show people that,’ the world No.5 said after his pro-am round at the LIV Golf International Orlando in Florida.
Suspended from the PGA Tour, Smith is contesting only his fourth event of a so-far modest year but is backing himself to once again excel at Augusta National, where the 29-year-old boasts a supremely consistent record.
‘Obviously first and foremost for me, I’m trying to go there and play the best golf I can,’ said Smith, one of 18 LIV golfers set to tee up at the Masters.
‘It’s important for us to go there, really show a high standard of golf which we know we’re all capable of.
Scott agrees it would be foolish to write off Smith after his stellar five-title 2022 season.
‘He’s in the prime of his career at the moment, as far as we can tell,’ Scott said ahead of his own 22nd Masters tilt 10 years after he became the first Australian to win the famous green jacket.
‘His confidence has to be high, he’s the reigning Open champion and coming off the year he had last year, even with if you want to call it limited preparation, it takes a lot more than that for the confidence to fade.
‘So if he gets any kind of good feeling going next week, absolutely [he can win].
‘And he’s played great there the last few years.’
Former US tour prol turned analyst Brandel Chamblee this month said the LIV contingent, including Smith, former world No.1 Dustin Johnson and fellow major winners Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, were at a huge disadvantage to the PGA Tour players entering the major season.
‘You cannot convince me that week in and week out playing against the very best players in the very best competitions doesn’t make you sharper,’ Chamblee said.
‘Think where they are going to be a week before the Masters, typically the best players in the world in the week before the Masters go in, get a sense of how the golf course is playing and then maybe go home and practise on like conditions with like grasses.
‘[The LIV players are] going to be in Orlando at Crooked Cat, putting on grainy Bermuda [grass].
‘It’s no way to prepare for a major championship.’
But with Smith boasting ties for second, third, fifth and 10th in four of his five Masters starts, Scott believes his fellow Queenslander can rise to the occasion once again at Augusta National.
‘He’s got a great short game. It’s so helpful there,’ Scott said.
‘For the few times that you may find yourself out of position, when you can pitch and putt like Cam Smith, you’re never out of it.’