11 Dec 2019 | Professional golf |

Smith maintains Reed rage

by Mark Hayes

Cam Smith Patrick Reed_image

Cam Smith continued his strong moral stance against Patrick Reed today, but will have to cool his jets one more day before making his Presidents Cup debut.

Smith admitted his words in Reed’s direction during last week’s Australian Open had probably cost him a friendship, but said he felt more strongly about what was right in golf than being on Reed’s Christmas card list.

International team captain Ernie Els didn’t call Smith’s name when the pairings were later made for the opening fourball matches on Thursday morning, saying it was part of his secret and long-touted “system” he was using for team selections this week. Smith and China’s Haotong Li will sit out in the first session, but both are expected to play in Friday’s foursomes.

Smith said there was an almost tangibly strong bond in the International team’s locker room, with all players willing to accept their legendary boss’s decisions.

“Whatever Ernie thinks is best is all OK by us,” said Smith, who’s been the focus of much publicity this week after his candid commentary on Reed’s indiscretion in the Bahamas when he was penalised for improving his lie by moving sand away from behind his ball before playing a bunker shot.

Smith said his Sydney comments had clearly reached Reed because he had been stonewalled by the American on the Royal Melbourne practice range.

“I'm sure he didn't like it. I think there is a little bit of tension there,” the Queenslander said.

“I've looked at Patrick a couple times, but he hasn't looked back. I'm looking forward to the weekend.

“I definitely won't go out of my way (to talk to him). Our friendship, I guess, is not quite there any more.

“(My criticism) is not a case of team versus team, I think it's a case of what's right and what's wrong.

“I think there's something to be said about that.”

The dual Australian PGA champion said he’d love to play singles against Tiger Woods on Sunday, but would also be ready to roll if Els chose him for a showdown with Reed.

“I'm pretty sure everyone has their hand up for that one,” he said with trademark grin. Both Smith and nine-time Presidents Cup star Adam Scott said there was a great feeling of unity in the International locker room.

Scott, who’s poured his heart and soul into the event without any return since the 2003 tie in South Africa, said a win against the raging favourite Americans would be among his career high points.

“It would probably mean a lot more to me than I've ever thought,” he mused.

“The last few years, I've put more of myself out there for the team, and so far it hasn't yielded much of a result. It's never fun leaving on Sunday with not having won the trophy.

“This is a real opportunity for us and it will be possibly a team that is remembered after such a long stretch. I'm really keen to kind of take that chance this week.

“We need a victory, absolutely. It's as simple as that.

“There's nothing fun for me to talk about; all my appearances, we've come up short. I think for a long time, we didn't have the answers and this time, I think we've checked a lot of the right boxes coming in and that's why I'm also very optimistic.

“I like what I see in the way (the team members) are approaching it, but I also like the way Ernie has prepared himself for this team to play well this week.

“He told us his plan early on, and he's going 100 per cent in on that, and I love that.

“I can get behind someone who is 100 per cent in on something. If it doesn't work out, I admire the fact he's gone all in, and I don't think we've ever done that before.”

US captain Tiger Woods, the first playing captain since Hale Irwin in the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994, didn’t leave anyone waiting about his own intentions when the teams were chosen.

Woods put himself with Justin Thomas in the first match out tomorrow against Aussie Marc Leishman and Chilean debutant, Joquin Niemann, the former world No.1 amateur.

Canada’s Adam Hadwin will team with Korean rookie Sungjae Im in match two against the American combination of Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.

Scott will join with Korean Ben An in match three against Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau.

Public enemy No.1 Patrick Reed was paired with one of Team USA’s nice guys in Webb Simpson to play against Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan in match four.

While last year’s Australian Open champion Abraham Ancer will team with this year’s runner-up Louis Oosthuizen in what promises to be a great anchor match against world No.5 Dustin Johnson and US Open champ Gary Woodland.

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