Golf majors still the focus for LIV ace Cam Smith

Australian golf superstar Cameron Smith opens his 2023 season at this week's Saudi International intent on peaking for the season's four major championships.

Whether he's playing for rankings points or not, Australian golf ace Cameron Smith is intent on taking his game to new levels in 2023.

That's both a frightening prospect for his rivals and refreshing news for fans.

Banished from the US PGA Tour after joining the Greg Norman-led LIV Golf circuit following his magical British Open triumph at St Andrews last July, Smith opens his 2023 season at the Asian Tour's Saudi International starting on Thursday.

While it's another opportunity for the world No.4 - and other participating LIV golfers including fellow major winners Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau - to pick up precious rankings points, Smith's motivations lie elsewhere.

Excited just to be competing again, Smith is more intent on honing his game for when he does get to tee up against full world-class, 72-hole fields - chiefly at the four annual majors.

In addition to his glorious Open victory at St Andrews, where he mowed down Rory McIlroy in the final round, Smith last year won The Players championship, the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions, LIV Chicago and the Australian PGA.

But most significantly in his five-win season, Smith's St Andrews victory gave the 29-year-old exemption to the Masters, US PGA, US Open and British Open until at least 2028.

So being sharp for the four majors, starting in April at Augusta where he's had three top-5 finishes in the past five years - is the priority.

"Probably 2022 would be a really tough one to back up," he said.

"For sure I'm just keeping the same processes going. Really digging deep, working hard on my game at home, I think, is really what I need to do.

"It's really easy when you're playing good golf to be quite complacent. So I'm just keeping on top of that, keeping on top of the body and just keep working on it."

Smith admits it still stings not being able to receive rankings points on the Saudi-backed LIV tour, which only stages 54-hole, no-cut events, and is taking a philosophical approach to keep his competitive fire burning.

"I've tried to take it not that badly, to be honest. I think when you rock up to a tournament, you know who you have to beat, whether there's a world ranking or not," he said.

"There's generally seven or eight guys that are in that field that you know are going to put up a pretty good fight.

"For sure it hurts. I feel as though I was really close to getting to No.1, and that was definitely something I wanted to tick off.

"But kind of the longer that this stuff goes on, I think the more obsolete those rankings become.

"That's just the long and short of it, I think.

"Do we need them (rankings)? It would be nice, but you know who you've got to beat when you get on the golf course.

"Just do what I can do to make myself a better golfer that day and hopefully when I'm teeing it up in a tournament, it all comes together and I can be there Saturday and Sunday and hole a few nice putts and lift the trophy."