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cameron smith

So Cameron Smith did play at Sawgrass after all

Cameron Smith is ineligible to play at the Players Championship this week, so he drove around the corner to a local nine-hole course to keep sharp for the next LIV Golf event

 

Cameron Smith was at a loose end on Thursday, so he decided to go for a round at Sawgrass.

Of course, he couldn’t play at TPC Sawgrass. There appears to be a tournament on this week with thousands of fans attending.

According to Golfweek, the Australian, who lives near the famous Players Championship venue at Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida, instead played at The Yards – a nine-hole track about a mile from the Stadium Course.

The course’s website describes it as “the most fun and unique golf course offered in Ponte Vedra Beach”, with membership costing $3,500.

But we doubt Smith had trouble paying the $25 green fee and the staff at The Yards described him as “extremely cordial and personable.”

That’s as close as the LIV Golf player will get to the hallowed turf of The Yards’ older brother in 2023, despite winning The Players 12 months ago.

The 29-year-old’s one-shot win over Anirban Lahiri was his biggest victory before he hoisted the Claret Jug at the Home of Golf four months later.

Smith joined the Saudi-financed LIV tour shortly after winning the Open Championship at St Andrews. He is part of an all-Aussie team which was one of CEO Greg Norman’s aims when devising the rebel league.

National Club Golfer at The Players

Before the first tee shots were struck on Thursday, and before Smith started his game at the course down the road, his name was batted around the media centre as some players, along with Tour boss Jay Monahan, were asked about his absence.

“We’re talking about different circumstances right now,” World No 1 Jon Rahm said. “Some players made a choice of going to a different golf league, knowing that they weren’t going to be allowed to play here.

“Yes, this is a massive event that is very, very close to major quality, but it is still a PGA Tour event. So with that regard. No. I don’t think just he should be allowed to be here.

“Would it be better if the defending champion was here this week? Absolutely,” former Players Championship winner Rory McIlroy said.

“But he made a decision that he felt was the best thing for him, and he knew that decision was going to come with consequences, and one of the consequences is right now not being able to play on the PGA Tour.”

“Yes, it’s awkward,” Monahan added. “But ultimately, that’s the decision he made and we’ve got an unbelievable field here this weekend and a history and tradition that one of these 144 is going to go seek to get.”

It is just the fourth time the champion has not been able to defend his crown at the Players Championship, with the last being Tiger Woods in 2014.

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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