Golf: Cameron Smith criticizes LIV players competing in the Masters

Cameron Smith has rebuffed critics who believe the new LIV is not playing enough “real golf” to continue his stellar record in Augusta and compete in next week’s Masters.

Adam Scott, the only Australian to win the green jacket, equally dismissed speculation that Smith’s chances were hurt by his move to the LIV, saying the Queenslander was “in the prime of his career”.

Smith, the reigning British Open champion, is only playing his fourth tournament of the year at this week’s LIV tournament in Orlando, another 54-hole no-reduction tournament at the Orange County National Course.

This is considered one of the less difficult spreads on the LIV circuit and Smith finished the previous round at Tuscon in 24th place.

Smith, who remains world No. 5, started 2023 with a miss in Saudi Arabia and then finished fifth at the inaugural LIV in Mayakob, albeit nine shots behind the winner.

He returns to Augusta as an Open champion after finishing third in last year’s Masters and has also made the top 10 three times in the past four years, including finishing second to Dustin Johnson in 2020.

Smith also played in the final group last year as Scotty Sheffler went to victory.

Ahead of the first rounds in Orlando, the final setup for 18 LIV players will go to the MastersSmith said his new tour mates wanted to “show people” that they were good enough to still compete with the best players in the world.

He was adamant that all six former LIV Masters champions were capable of “high level golfing” and their presence would be felt in Augusta.

“Obviously my first priority is to go there and play the best golf I can,” Smith said after playing the pro championship.

“(But) I think it’s important for us to go there, to really show the level of golf we know we can all play.

“Most of us will get four tries this year (in major championships) and hopefully we will win. Maybe we’re just showing a really hearty effort.

“There’s a lot of talk going around about ‘these guys don’t play real golf anymore.’ And I think that’s bullshit, to be honest. And we just want to show it to people.”

Smith is one of five Australians to play the Masters this year, ten years after Scott’s famous win, and the 2013 winner saw no reason why his compatriot couldn’t finish.

“He’s in the prime of his career now … his confidence should be high,” Scott said Friday.

“He is the reigning Open champion, after the year he had last year, even if you want to call it limited training, it takes a lot more for the confidence to fade.

“If next week he feels some kind of good mood, then absolutely (he can win). And he’s been playing great there for the past few years.

“He has a great short game, it helps a lot. When you can hit and hit like Cam Smith, you’re never out of the game.”

Smith spoke of the good spirits he experienced back in Augusta, stating that one of the best golf he ever played was at the Masters. .

That’s enough to make the Queenslander feel confident that he can fight again.

“I feel like I played my best golf I have ever played there,” he said.

“I feel like I have a pretty good track record there.”

Originally published as Cameron Smith is confident that he and the LIV players can compete in the Masters next week