Cameron Smith’s absence from the Players Championship is a “little bit sad”, says former winner Jason Day, because the occasion prepares to get underneath means subsequent week with out its defending champion.
While there’ll loads of star energy at TPC Sawgrass, together with Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and the brand new world No1 Jon Rahm, one evident absence would be the Open champion and world No 5 Smith, who has been banned indefinitely from taking part in in PGA Tour occasions after switching to LIV Golf.
Australian Smith is certainly one of 5 gamers who completed contained in the top-10 final yr at TPC Sawgrass who’ve since fled to LIV Golf, a bunch that additionally consists of runner-up Anirban Lahiri, Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey and Harold Varner III.
“He lives five minutes down the road,” Day informed Sky Sports. “I miss Cammy. I miss a lot of the guys that have gone over to the LIV Tour.
“Obviously I don’t blame them for going over there. They had the opportunity to pick up whatever they wanted to, money-wise. They made a decision. [But] it is a little bit sad Cammy’s not here this week. The decision has been made, and he’s over there.”
Rahm is the primary participant since Johnny Miller in 1975 to win 3 times in a calendar yr earlier than March and can headline a loaded subject at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, which incorporates 44 of the highest 50 gamers on the earth.
The Spaniard, who opened the season with six consecutive top-10 finishes earlier than settling for a share of thirty ninth final week at Bay Hill, has by no means missed the minimize in 5 begins at The Players and had his greatest end in 2021 when he completed ninth.
World primary Rahm counts the 2021 U.S. Open amongst his 10 wins on the PGA Tour, however the Spaniard may be very keen so as to add a Players Championship title to his resume.
“I mean, winning this event is a big step forward to a Hall of Fame career,” Rahm informed reporters. “You are The Players Champion. Arguably as close as you can get to being a major champion without officially being one.”
Among the opposite contenders at TPC Sawgrass, the place the winner will get $4.5 million from a handbag of $25 million, are reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year Scottie Scheffler and four-times main winner Rory McIlroy.
For Scheffler and McIlroy, who’ve each frolicked atop the world rankings this yr, a win this week is without doubt one of the many eventualities during which they will return to high spot within the rankings.
McIlroy arrives stuffed with confidence after ending runner-up at Bay Hill the place in the course of the last around the Northern Irishman carded successive bogeys from the 14th earlier than a two-putt birdie on the par-five sixteenth stored his hopes alive.
“As much as I was disappointed that I didn’t play the final five holes the way I wanted to, it was still a good week, and I feel like getting into contention last week and sort of having those feelings sets me up well for this week,” mentioned McIlroy.
First-round motion begins on Thursday.
Additional reporting by Reuters