Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Apr 03 2024
- 5 MIN
Ripper Preview Cam Smith

MIAMI - As Ripper GC prepares for this week's LIV Golf Miami, captain Cameron Smith is thankful that the old adage about "horses for courses" is now starting to work in his team's favor.

Early on this season, some of the LIV Golf venues were not a perfect fit for the all-Australian combination but all that changed last month with the Fanling Course where the Rippers placed third at LIV Golf Hong Kong to secure their first podium finish of the season.

This week also sets up well for Smith and company since he and his three teammates all enjoy playing on the hosting Blue Monster course at Trump National Doral.

"Last week out was probably the first course that we all really enjoyed playing and that really helped us out," Smith said ahead of Friday's opening round. "I feel like it was kind of some mixed emotions early on in the season with the courses ... maybe some courses that didn't suit us or even suit our eye.

"But I still feel like we played some pretty decent golf. Now there are a lot of courses coming up that are going to suit our game and I feel like we are on the right trend."

It was a case of so close but so far for the Rippers in Hong Kong where they had to settle for third place after a dramatic, rain-swept final round of fluctuating fortunes.

With just three holes to go in challenging conditions, the Australians remained in top spot but Matt Jones and Marc Leishman both made faltering finishes while Crushers GC players Paul Casey and Bryson DeChambeau stormed to the finish line to clinch a come-from-behind victory for their team.

Asked what the Rippers needed to do differently to secure a team victory this year, Smith replied: "Playing good on Sundays is a really big thing now with all four scores to count. We've seen the Crushers play really well on Sundays and perhaps not so well at the start of the week. I think that's the key to winning out here - to have a really decent day from everyone in the final round."

Smith suffered personal disappointment in Hong Kong where he came close to becoming the first LIV golfer to win four individual titles, but instead he lost out in a playoff for the second time as Fireballs GC's Abraham Ancer prevailed.

Nonetheless, Smith is very happy with his all-round game as he prepares for the fifth event of the 2024 LIV Golf season.

"There was probably a little bit of stuff that we were working on in the off-season that didn't really feel comfortable on certain courses early on," said Smith, who won twice in 13 LIV Golf starts last year while notching up four other top-10s to wind up second in the overall standings.

"But Hong Kong is a place where I have played well before and it's a place where I feel really comfortable. So personally, I feel like that time of feeling a little uncomfortable is over and I am now ready to go out there this week and perform."

Prior to Hong Kong, Smith had failed to spark consistently - mainly due to ongoing problems off the tee. In his first three LIV Golf outings of the year, he tied for eighth at LIV Golf Mayakoba, shared 15th place at LIV Golf Las Vegas and then struggled in windy conditions to end up joint 41st at LIV Golf Jeddah.

Although the Rippers finished a disappointing ninth at the LIV Golf Team Championship in Miami last October, Smith loves how the 7,701-yard Trump National Doral layout generally sets up for Ripper GC.

"This is actually a really good course for us," he said. "We obviously got beat by a better team on the day in the Cleeks last year but generally it's a course that we all love and we play well around so I am really looking forward to this week."

The Rippers were seeded seventh at last year's LIV Golf Team Championship where they were upset 2-1 by the 10th-seeded Cleeks in Friday's match play quarterfinal round. Ripper GC went on to finish ninth in the final tournament of the 2023 season.