Report: Cam Smith plays down the road from Stadium Course on Thursday
Cam Smith, the defending champ, was at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday… just not on the pitch.
According to Golfweek, Smith, who was suspended from the PGA Tour for switching to LIV Golf, instead played Thursday at The Yards, a nine-hole course that is one mile from the Players Championship stadium course.
“Extremely cordial and personable,” The Yards staff said, confirming to Golfweek that Smith did indeed play there Thursday morning. They reportedly declined to comment further.
A year ago, the Australian won The Players by a stroke over current LIV teammate Anirban Lahiri. It was the biggest win of Smith’s career until he won the 150th Open at St. Andrews last July, a month before he went to the Saudi-backed circuit.
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This is the first time that someone has not defended his player title not because of an injury. The winner has not defended his player title only four times in the tournament’s 49-year history. The last time it was Tiger Woods was in 2014, recovering from a back injury.
Earlier this week, some of the most notable names at the PGA Tour’s flagship event acknowledged that Smith’s absence was noticeable, but were optimistic that the Players would remain one of the year’s top events this year.
“Would it be better if the defending champion was here this week? Absolutely,” Rory McIlroy said on Tuesday. “But he made a decision that he thought was best for him, and he knew that that decision would have consequences.”
“Look, Cam Smith did a great job in 2022,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. “He was a deserving champion… To answer your question directly, yes, it’s embarrassing. But you know, he ultimately made the decision, and this week we have an incredible field here, history and traditions, which are 144 [players] going to go look get.”
Maybe Smith will show up at the stadium this week? The 29-year-old lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida near TPC Sawgrass. said Golf.com that he would consider attending the event as a spectator.
“I would like to get out of there,” he said. “I don’t know how it will be received. But even going out there, looking, walking in the crowd can be pretty funny.”
He also told Golf.com that he wanted to defend his title but knew he would have to give it up when he moved to the LIV last year.
“It tingles a little,” he said. “But with my decision to go to LIV, that was one of the things I had to give up and I’m comfortable with that.”