Cameron Smith Plays Golf In Sawgrass During Players Championship Opening Round

 Cameron Smith looks on after hitting a drive at the Saudi International
Cameron Smith looks on after hitting a drive at the Saudi International

Cameron Smith may not be able to defend his Players Championship title this week, but he did manage to tee it up in Sawgrass on Thursday – just not at THAT Sawgrass.

While Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler and the rest of the field took on TPC Sawgrass chasing victory in the PGA Tour’s flagship event, Smith was left wondering if he could even turn up as a spectator.

The Australian lives virtually on the doorstep in Ponte Vedra Beach, and after admitting that not being allowed to defend his title “stings a bit” he thought about going purely as a fan.

“I’d love to get out there,” he said. “I don’t know how it would be received. But going out there and walking around in the crowd might be pretty funny.”

Smith, though, instead decided to take his clubs and have a friendly round at a local $40 nine-hole track called The Yards, known as a “Beer Loop” for social golfers, which is just a couple of miles away from THE Sawgrass.

Golfweek reports that the Open champion posed for pictures and played with some friends at the facility, which is part of the Sawgrass Players Club – a group of amenities for local homeowners around the area.

Smith jumped to LIV Golf shortly after lifting the Claret Jug at St Andrews, and has previously said he’s comfortable with missing out on PGA Tour events as a consequence of the decision he made to join Greg Norman’s new tour.

Cameron Smith holds the Players Championship trophy
Cameron Smith holds the Players Championship trophy

Not playing this week is odd though, with even PGA Tour boss Jay Monahan admitting that it was not an ideal situation to have the defending Players champion banned from trying to retain his title.

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

We’ll keep an eye out to see if Smith does actually make the short trip to Sawgrass and if he is spotted in the crowd of golf fans watching the even unfold.