Cameron Smith, the reigning Players Championship champion, has threatened to show up as a paying spectator this week despite being banned for life from competing in the PGA Tour’s flagship event.
The Australian has been suspended from the US circuit indefinitely after joining LIV Golf after winning this event and the Open at St Andrew’s last July.
According to Mirror, Smith, the world No. 5, will be the first winner to miss his Sawgrass showpiece defense due to a reason other than injury, but because he lives nearby, he may still make an appearance at the Stadium Course.
“I grew up my whole childhood watching the event. I would love to get out there. I don’t know how it would be received, me getting out there and watching, walking around in the crowd. Might be pretty funny, I would love to do that,” he told Golf.com.
“I am a little unsure. That is where I live now. I don’t know, I will definitely be watching it on TV. I think it is a great event.” While Smith’s remark was clearly sarcastic, the 29-year-old with the trademark mullet is the type of character who could pull off such a stunt.
It would not only embarrass the Tour, whose headquarters are at the Ponte Vedra resort, but also the club, which reportedly kicked Smith out of the club and took away his reserved parking spot in front of the clubhouse after he defected to the Saudi-funded league.
LIV is having a slow week as it prepares for its second event of the season in Tucson next week. In total, 31 LIV ranks competed in last year’s Players before having their entry rights revoked. That number includes not only Smith but also Indian Anirban Lahiri and Englishman Paul Casey who finished second and third in 2022.