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

The Aussie golfer is one of many LIV golfers who are likely to miss the Paris Olympics due to lack of ranking points.

Cameron Smith heads to the PGA Championship on Thursday knowing that if he is to make the Paris Olympics he must win the tournament in Kentucky. Coveted spots on Australia's Olympic golf team are on the line this weekend with Smith up against the likes of Jason Day and Min Woo Lee in the battle for positions for Paris 2024.

Day, Australia's No.1 and the world No.19 is in pole position to secure one of the two men's spots, with the 36th-ranked Min Woo Lee currently holding down the second position. But that could all change if Smith adds a second major championship crown to the Claret Jug he won at the landmark 150th British Open in 2022.

Cameron Smith is one of a host of LIV golfers who are set to miss the Paris Olympics due to lack of ranking points. Image: Getty
Cameron Smith is one of a host of LIV golfers who are likely to miss the Paris Olympics due to lack of ranking points. Image: Getty

It is a must-win tournament for Smith in Kentucky. Nothing short of a victory on Sunday will be enough to move above Lee, meaning his Olympic dream will be all but over. He finds himself in this position largely due to being signed with LIV, meaning he is unable to earn rankings points playing LIV Golf events.

Languishing at No.61 in the world, after the Kentucky tournament, Smith only has next month's US Open to accrue more points before the rankings cut-off for the Olympics on June 13. The three-time Australian PGA Championship winner is desperate to make the Games team after falling narrowly short of a podium finish in Tokyo three years ago after bogeying the final hole to miss a seven-man bronze-medal play-off in Japan. No Australian golfer has ever won an Olympic medal.

One of the key figures behind the rejection of LIV Golf's application for official world ranking points has revealed that "some promises" to players of the Saudi-backed league had been broken. Manly players who joined LIV did so under the belief that its bid for rankings points would be approved.

The lack of ranking points on offer for LIV players has begun to bite some stars, whose Olympic dreams are in doubt due to their rankings slide. And it will only get worse from next year when some stars lose their exemptions into the majors as well.

PGA of America chief executive and Official World Golf Ranking board member Seth Waugh said LIV officials "misunderstood" what was required to be approved. "When LIV asked for points – now, first of all, they 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," Waugh said ahead of the PGA Championship in Kentucky.

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - MAY 05: Cameron Smith of Ripper GC walks on the fourteenth hole during day three of the LIV Golf Invitational - Singapore at Sentosa Golf Club on May 05, 2024 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Lionel Ng/Getty Images)
Cameron Smith must win this weekend if he is to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

"You know, that’s just never happened. We always kind of look at new tours, and they take a bit of time. One is, are they going to be successful? Are they actually going to launch? Are they going to survive more than one season, and what quality of play is going to be there before we kind of begin to think about it."

"So I think they misunderstood how the process went. I’m not saying it’s their fault. I’m just saying I think they misunderstood. But there are two fundamental things that we weren’t sure we could solve with math, which was relegation and promotion, and what that looked like because that was murky and they didn’t want to share exactly who was sort of there and so we never knew the percentages of what that would look like.

“And secondly, just the inherent conflict of team versus individual play. Kind of went back and forth a few times, but they didn’t change their position. We didn’t really change ours. We’ve had very serious conversations about it, and then without telling us publicly, they have withdrawn their application."

with AAP