Cam Smith’s long-awaited homecoming has literally brought extra baggage.
The world No. 3 has returned to her native Australia after a three-year hiatus due to COVID-related travel restrictions. And the reigning Open champion dragged the burgundy pitcher the 9,000 miles from his home in Jacksonville, Florida, to his homeland, where he is due to play in the Australian PGA Championship. The event is held for the first time in two years due to COVID.
During a pre-tournament press conference, Smith sat next to a burgundy pitcher, and when asked to talk about his St. Andrews triumph, the 29-year-old said his first major championship win had yet to come.
“I still can’t believe the burgundy pitcher is here, I still can’t believe I won it,” Smith said. “The whole tournament seems to be a kind of blackout. I can’t remember much in a week. I’ve seen a few reruns and stuff on TV.”
Full game time at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship
Claret pitcher in hand, Smith was greeted with a hero’s welcome. He became the 52nd person and the first golfer to receive the key to Royal Queensland.
“Since I was at home, I cried several times – it was good,” he said.
But Smith made headlines this year for more than just his win at St. Andrews. Shortly after the end of the 2021–22 PGA Tour season, Smith moved to the Saudi-supported LIV Golf circuit.
With this move, Smith forfeited World Ranking Points as the LIV tournaments do not currently offer them. However, he has only dropped one spot in the rankings since his defection, and he’s not too worried – yet – about his OWGR status.
“Ever since I joined (LIV), I feel like not having glasses has definitely hurt me a lot,” Smith said. “Especially in golf, I played very, very solid golf. Yes, it hurts a little, but there is no pressure to get out.”
While he may score points this week and delay a free fall in the rankings, he is more excited to try and celebrate this third Australian PGA win (2017, 2018) in front of home fans.
“It’s just great to be back and I think the crowd noise and all that stuff will mean more to me than a few points in the world rankings,” he said.