When he hoisted the Australian PGA trophy aloft for the third time on Sunday, it was the fifth time in 2022 that Cameron Smith smiled as a winner.
His 2022 haul is arguably better than world No.1 Rory McIlroy, who won three times and was both the FedEx Cup champion and finished on top of the DP World Tour rankings.
Smith, the world No.3, won both the Open Championship and The Players Championship, which he and others regard as the game’s fifth major, before his move to LIV Golf where he scored yet another win, and then came his victory in Queensland.
But among the sacrifices Smith made when he joined Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed league was giving up the chance to be world No.1.
His plight became clear when Smith was rewarded with just 10 world ranking points for his victory at Royal Queensland.
By comparison, that was half the amount of points given to American John Suh when he won the season-ending event on the Korn Ferry Tour in the US, which is the feeder for the US PGA Tour.
The LIV request to gain world ranking points has continued to meet hurdles given the 54-hole, no-cut events fail two of the key criteria.
It leaves Smith just six potential events to earn points, including both the Australian PGA and this week’s Australian Open, plus the four major championships.
The Queenslander also finished tied for third at the 2022 Masters at Augusta, another indication of the stunning year he has had.
World ranking points are crucial for those LIV golfers who aren’t exempt for the majors, but Smith and others including former Masters winners Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia should be allowed to play at Augusta.
American Kevin Na, another LIV player, entered the Australian PGA in a bid to earn points but withdrew prior to the event because of injury.
A formal decision on their presence, however, is yet to be made, but Smith said recently the majors should be open to anyone who qualified through established processes.
“I think the majors really have to stand above all the politics,” Smith said before his PGA win.
“If they really want the best product and the best players playing against each other in the world, they have to let us play. There’s no reason other than playing another tour that should suggest we shouldn’t play.”
Smith gets the chance for more ranking points should he back up his PGA win at this week’s mixed-gender Australian Open.
After a massive week on his return home to Brisbane, which included getting the keys to the city and winning the Greg Norman Medal, he’s hoping he may have time “for a nap” and ride the wave to win again.
“I definitely wouldn’t say I let emotion get in the way of what I’m trying to do, but it’s nice to have a little bit of fire in the belly for sure,” he said.
“It’s definitely been a long week-and-a-half. I’m sure next week will be pretty long as well. I can’t wait for a nap and kind of get the body back into what it needs to be like.”