Cameron Smith caught up in fresh LIV storm amid must-win tournament to save Olympic dream

Due to a lack of ranking points, the Australian golfer is among several LIV players who are expected to miss the Olympics in Paris.

Cameron Smith knows he needs to win the tournament in Kentucky in order to qualify for the Olympics in Paris, so he is going into the PGA Championship on Thursday. This weekend, Smith will compete against players like Jason Day and Min Woo Lee for coveted spots on Australia’s Olympic golf team. The goal is to secure a spot for Australia in Paris 2024.

Day, the top-ranked player in Australia and the world, is in the lead to take one of the two men’s spots; Min Woo Lee, currently ranked 36th, is currently in second place. All of that, however, might alter in 2022 if Smith wins a second major championship title to go along with the historic 150th British Open Claret Jug.

For Smith in Kentucky, this tournament is a must-win. To surpass Lee, a victory on Sunday would be necessary, which would virtually end his Olympic dream. Being signed with LIV, which prevents him from earning rankings points by competing in LIV Golf events, is a major factor in his current situation.

Smith, who is currently ranked No. 61 in the world following the Kentucky tournament, has until the US Open next month to gain more points before the June 13 cutoff in the rankings. The three-time Australian PGA Championship winner, who missed out on a seven-man bronze-medal play-off in Japan and came up short of a podium finish in Tokyo three years ago, is desperate to make the Games squad. There isn’t a single Australian golfer with an Olympic medal.

LIV’s bungled rankings play exposed

According to a major player in the decision to deny LIV Golf’s request for official world ranking points, “some promises” made to the players in the league supported by Saudi Arabia had been broken. Manly players signed up for LIV with the expectation that its request for ranking points would be granted.

For some stars, the lack of ranking points available to LIV players has started to bite; their ascent through the rankings has cast doubt on their Olympic aspirations. And when some stars lose their major league exemptions the following year, it will only get worse.

Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America and a member of the Official World Golf Ranking board, claimed that LIV officials “misunderstood” the requirements for approval. Prior to the PGA Championship in Kentucky, Waugh stated, “When LIV asked for points, they first publicly assumed they were going to have points and made some promises necessarily – potentially, even, and really didn’t apply for a while after that, and then finally did apply, and I think they expected an answer in, you know, a very short period of time.”

It’s just never happened, you know. It takes some time, but we always kind of look at new tours. The first is: Will they be successful? Will they really make the launch? Will they last for more than one season, and what level of play will they have before we start to consider it?”

Thus, I believe they had a misunderstanding of the procedure. It’s not their fault, mind you. All I’m saying is that I believe they got it wrong. Relegation and promotion, however, and what that looked like were two fundamental problems that we weren’t sure we could solve with math because the details were hazy and they didn’t want to disclose who was sort of there, so we never knew the percentages of what that would look like.

Second, there’s the fundamental tension between team and individual play. They kind of shifted positions a few times, but they never really settled in. Actually, we didn’t alter ours. After some very serious discussions, they withdrew their application without notifying us in public.”

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