The Australian world’s No. 6 Cameron Smith has urged the PGA Tour to bring an event to Australia as the escalating war with Greg Norman’s LIV Gulf continues leading up to this week’s US Open infest.
Smith has continually distanced himself from the growing gulf between players who have stayed and those who have taken the megabucks on offer.
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It’s a situation PGA champion Justin Thomas called “sad” this week and Rory McIlroy said some players had felt “offended” after others went back on their original commitment to the PGA Tour to join Norman.
Two-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka said all LIV talks created a “black cloud” during the second major of the year as reports suggested the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, could somehow tie in. at LIV.
But amid rumors that Norman’s controversial new venture could forgo adding an Australian event in Melbourne to their future schedule, Smith said the PGA Tour could come for them.
Smith has been unable to go home to play since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and urged officials to keep Australia in their minds.
“I would love it if the PGA Tour went to Australia and played some golf,” Smith said at The Country Club in Massachusetts.
“It’s something I haven’t been able to do personally for a few years because of Covid.
“I miss home and I’m sure all fans at home miss seeing world-class golf.”
Golf Channel analyst and former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley said Australia could play a vital role for the PGA Tour to grow the game, something LIV stars say was a key motivation for their departure.
“You talk about growing the game. Say you want to go international or you want to discuss it with Alaksa,’ he said.
“Let’s send Jon Rahm there, let’s send Rory McIlroy there, let’s send Justin Thomas.
up there. Let’s send them there as part of a contract where they get a lot of money to promote the game in that region.
“Then we can take that and bring it to Australia.
“Australia is the most beautiful country to play golf. If you’ve ever been there those courses in Melbourne and Sydney are just incredible.
“Imagine if the best players on the tour got along to play the Australian Open under the PGA Tour contract, wouldn’t that be great to hold an event there?
“You talk about growing the game, that’s an idea there about how we can grow the game.
“It’s interesting to see if there’s an evolution toward that model as we get through this turmoil.”
Smith, meanwhile, said he was happy to avoid getting caught up in discussions about the impact of the Saudi-backed LIV Gulf amid allegations of the events, which are offering prize money of more than $30 million, an attempt to “sportswashing” Saudi Arabia’s human rights horror history.
“This week my focus is on golf,” Smith said.
“I am far from the smartest person in the room and I am not a politician. I’m here to follow a white golf ball and see what it does.
“Everyone has answered the question (about LIV) differently. But my focus is just to be here and play good golf.”
The 28-year-old from Brisbane has shown himself to be a major event player, winning the Players Championship, which he and other players are calling the fifth major, earlier this year.
Smith also has three top five finishes in the past five Masters, including a runner-up effort in 2020. In the first two majors this year, he finished third in Augusta and tied for 13th in last month’s PGA Championship in Southern Hills.
It’s a trajectory he wants to keep up at the US Open, an event in which his best finish was a share of fourth in his 2015 debut at Chambers Bay, where he announced himself in the golf world.
“I like the majors. I feel like they bring out the best in me,” Smith said.
“I like the demand for good play and just getting good scores. I feel like I’ve had a bit of success at US Opens before. I feel like this is a really good venue for me.
“I’d like to think my game has progressed to the point where I can compete on most golf courses.”
Smith, one of seven Australians in the US Open field, will play in the opening round with World No. 1 and Masters Champion Scottie Scheffler and Koepka, an indication of his new position in the world order.
It’s a position Smith has noticed and enjoys as he charts a course to win his first major.
“There’s also a bit of a different vibe on the golf course across from me,” Smith said.
“Maybe a few more people have their fingers crossed for me, which is nice. It’s something I’m still getting used to, but I like it.”
The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts
Aussie rd 1 tee times:
21:29 – Adam ScottJordan Spieth, Max Homa
22:02 – Marc LeishmanKeegan Bradley, Aaron Wise
2.30 am – Jed MorganTaylor Montgomery, Sean Crocker
3:25 a.m. – Min Woo LeeSeamus Power, Joohyung Kim
3:25 a.m. – Cameron SmithBrooks Koepka, Scottie Scheffler
4:09 a.m. – Lucas HerbertHarris English, Jason Kokrak
4:21 am – Todd SinnottJonas Blixt, Bo Hoag
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