Cameron Smith could make Players Championship return as paying punter as LIV defection rules out title defence
Cameron Smith could go from celebrated winner to spectator non grata at the Players Championship this week as the LIV Golf defector toys with a return to Sawgrass.
The Australian is banned from defending his title after leaving the PGA Tour for the lucrative Saudi-led series, a decision that came in the wake of his Open Championship victory last July.
USA Today's Golfweek reported Smith was stripped of his parking spot at Sawgrass and refused permission to practise at the course after making his career-changing decision.
He lives practically on the doorstep of the course, however, in a plush home just minutes away, and Smith hinted he will feel inclined to head for the course and pay at the gate, just so he gets to see some of the action first hand.
That would be a move that causes a major stir, with the rivalry between the competing tours at close to boiling point.
In an interview with Golf.com, Smith said: "I'm a little bit unsure, you know. That's where I live now, so I don't know, I'll definitely be watching on TV.
"I think it's a great event to watch. I grew up my whole childhood watching the event and, yeah, I'd love to get out there.
"I don't know how it would kind of be received, but getting out there and watching, walking around in the crowd, might be pretty funny."
Smith won by one stroke from Anirban Lahiri last year, landing what was then the biggest title of his career, which he went on to top at St Andrews.
Lahiri is also banned from competing, having committed to LIV, and the same applies to Paul Casey, who was third last year.
Play gets under way on Thursday.