Cameron Smith hopes his improved pulling power will secure the LIV Golf event for his native Queensland.
The world number 3 and Open winner aims for a third Australian PGA Championship this weekend at the event’s new Brisbane home at Royal Queensland.
Smith is back as a force in the sport for the first time in three years as he remains at loggerheads with the PGA over his involvement in a controversial boycott of the Saudi-backed rebel tour.
Although the 29-year-old’s reputation has not been dented, Brisbane-born Smith on Tuesday became the 52nd man, and first golfer, to receive the key to the city.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d find the keys to the city,” Smith said.
“I thought it was for important people.”
LIV Golf will enter the Australian market in Adelaide next year, with South Australian Government support a key factor after initial interest in several South East Queensland venues.
As Brisbane hosts the PGA Championship, partnering with the European Tour and acting as a gateway to the PGA Tour, the state is another obstacle to hosting the LIV Golf event.
But the LIV tour by Smith has the ultimate Brisbane pin-up boy, while CEO Greg Norman is another prominent Queenslander at the table.
“If I had my way, I’d love an event here in Queensland,” Smith said.
“Anywhere in Australia at the moment it’s very well received … the reception of LIV Golf in Australia has been really positive.”
“I can’t wait for Adelaide, but we hope to find somewhere in Queensland in the future.”
Good mate and LIV Tour partner Marc Leishman, who is playing at Royal Queensland this week, agreed.
Leishman told the Nine Network: “It’s definitely got a vibe and I’m hoping it will eventually move around Australia.”
“It will be amazing in Adelaide, they are hungry for golf at the moment.
“I’ve seen tickets sell out so fast, it’s so close to Warrnambool, where I grew up, so I’m excited.”