Jay Monahan Admits 'Awkward' Absence Of Cam Smith At Players Championship

The PGA Tour commissioner has opened up on the absence of the defending champion at TPC Sawgrass

Jay Monahan speaks to the media ahead of the 2023 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass
Jay Monahan has admitted that defending champion Cam Smith's Players Championship absence is awkward
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When the Players Championship takes place this week, it will do so without its defending champion Cameron Smith

That’s because, within six months of lifting the trophy at TPC Sawgrass in 2022, the Australian had opted to sign for LIV Golf - a decision that led to his suspension from the PGA Tour.

Speaking ahead of this week’s tournament, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan admitted the situation is awkward, particularly given that the 29-year-old lives close to the venue. However, he began by acknowledging that Smith was a worthy champion. 

He said: “Listen, Cam Smith had a great performance in 2022. He was a deserved champion. I think as I look to this week and I look at the field that we have here and the strength from top to bottom, I think when we leave here on Sunday night we're going to crown another deserving champion.”

Despite the World No.5’s enforced absence from the tournament, the field is packed with some of the world’s best players. Indeed, Smith is the only member of the world’s top 10 not involved, and Monahan admitted the situation, combined with the fact Smith lives in the area, is hardly ideal.

He said: “To answer your question directly, yes, it's awkward. But you know, ultimately that's a decision he made, and we've got an unbelievable field here this week and a history and tradition that one of these 144 is going to go seek to get.”

There is the potential for the situation to become even more uncomfortable. In an interview shared on Twitter by Golf.com, Smith admitted that he could attend the Players Championship as a spectator, something that would surely turn much of the attention onto him rather than events on the course.

Perhaps more likely is that Monahan need not worry, as Smith appears to be keeping his options open. In another interview, this time with Golf Digest, Smith said he could also spend his time fishing. He said: “I think it'll be a pretty quiet week on the water. I think all the residents will be out watching the golf tournament. So I’ll be able to strap out and have the water to myself.”

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.