As Cameron Smith prepares to defend his Australian PGA Championship crown at Royal Queensland this weekend, he also has his sights set on the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
However, that will require the Brisbane native to venture away from the LIV Golf scene more often over the next eight months.
Since the end of 2022, Smith’s world ranking has dropped from No.3 to No.19 due to a lack of points earned from officially sanctioned tournaments.
This year, he has played only six events that qualify for ranking points — including the recent Hong Kong Open, where he finished second.
While Smith remains in the frame for Olympic qualification, he could slip out of contention if he doesn’t commit to more official tour events going forward.
After the Australian PGA, he will travel down to Sydney to play in the Australian Open, with both events co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and the DP World Tour.
Speaking at a press event in Brisbane, the 2022 British Open champion revealed that improving his world ranking was a big part of his decision to return home.
“Hopefully, these couple of events down here can do plenty for me and those few majors before it can lift (my ranking) up as well,” he said.
“Hopefully, I can keep that ranking up and wear the coat of arms on the chest again. It’s pretty special.”
Smith will not be the only household name teeing it up at the PGA this week.
His group on Thursday will also include Aussie rising star Min Woo Lee and European Ryder Cup hero Robert McIntyre.
Other notables in the field include 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott and Smith’s playing partner at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Marc Leishman.
While Leishman, now ranked 422nd in the world, concedes that he won’t make it to Paris 2024, he is adamant that his good mate deserves a guernsey.
“Cam is a pretty clear-cut best Australian golfer and I think he deserves to be playing in the Olympics, so hopefully they can do something so he can get in,” he said.
Top golf bookmakers have Smith pegged as a +400 favourite to go back-to-back at Royal Queensland this weekend, with Lee holding the second line of betting at +600.
The 2023 Australian PGA Championship kicks off on Thursday, November 23, with the first group teeing off at 6am AEST.
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