‘No words. S***’: Cameron Smith melts down in Australian PGA title defense
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If the end of 2022 was Cameron Smith’s peak, he may have come crashing back to earth to close 2023.
In his title defense at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship this week, Smith shot a second-round 78 to finish his week at nine over and nine shots outside the cut line at Royal Queensland Golf Club.
Smith told reporters afterward he couldn’t remember a worse day on the course as a professional.
“Yeah, no words. S***,” Smith told the Australian Associated Press while choking back tears. “I’ve performed under pressure before and it’s not acceptable, a bit upsetting actually. I know what I’m doing, it’s just going out there and committing to something is another thing.”
His frustrations were clearly apparent on the ninth hole Friday when, after spending several minutes searching for a lost golf ball in the woods, he slammed his golf bag with a fairway wood. (Skip to :23 in the video below)
Smith finished No. 2 in LIV Golf’s season-long individual standings, but his play has been a bit of Jekyll and Hyde lately. In his final five starts of the LIV Golf season, he picked up his two wins at LIV London and LIV Bedminster, but the rest of his starts were substandard, recording a 35th, 40th and 25th in LIV’s 48-man fields.
But earlier this month, Smith finished runner-up on the Asian Tour’s International Series Hong Kong Open.
This week, his missed cut in the Australian PGA could prove costly as the event is now one of the few he plays that receives Official World Golf Ranking points.
LIV Golf’s application to receive OWGR points was officially denied in October. With no finalization of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Public Investment Fund’s framework agreement that could provide for a path back to the PGA Tour for Smith and other LIV Golf defectors, chances for ranking points are few and far between.
Smith, who has fallen from No. 2 in the world to 18th since joining LIV, was able to play in this week’s Aussie PGA and next week’s Australian Open because they are co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia.
The only OWGR-ranked events Smith played last year between the Aussie PGA and the Masters were the Australian Open and the PIF Saudi International. While he has no worries about qualifying for majors for the foreseeable future due to his 2022 Open Championship win, his chances of representing Australia in the Olympics are dimming.
According to OWGR guru Nosferatu on Twitter, Smith was projected to cede his position as Australia’s top-ranked player by the rankings cutoff in June 2024. Both Jason Day and Cameron Davis would pass him, grabbing the country’s two Olympic spots. The Olympics takes a maximum of four golfers per country from the top 15 of the OWGR and then fills out the rest of the field of 60 with a maximum of two golfers per country.
Day (current World No. 21), Davis (44) and Min Woo Lee (45), who leads in Australia through three rounds, all play on the PGA Tour and could overtake Smith.
Ahead of the Aussie PGA this week in Brisbane, Smith said a desire to compete in the Olympics was still top of mind.
“I definitely want to be there, mate, 100 percent,” the 30-year-old told reporters earlier in the week. “I know the criteria, I don’t know if that can change, but I’ve got these couple of events here and probably more looks again in the majors, so hopefully I can keep that ranking up and wear the [Australian national] coat of arms on the chest again, it’s pretty special.”