Greg Norman has been accused of denying Cameron Smith a potentially great career by tempting his fellow Australian to the breakaway LIV Golf Series.
Norman is the chief executive and influential frontman of the Saudi-backed series, which held its inaugural events in 2022.
Among the highest-profile recruits of LIV’s first year was Smith, who elected to sign just weeks after securing his maiden major title at The Open at St Andrews last summer.
Now prominent analyst Brandel Chamblee, who has been an outspoken critic of LIV defectors, has suggested that Smith’s decision could rob the 29-year-old of a potentially great career.
Indeed, Chamblee believes that Norman might have denied his compatriot the chance of being regarded as the country’s greatest ever golfer.
“It’s ironic to me that it might possibly be an Aussie that will keep another Aussie in Cameron Smith possibly from ascending to a spot where he’s considered the greatest player of all time [from Australia],” Chamblee said to the Golf Channel. “Supplanting Peter Thomson, he had that kind of talent.
“Norman didn’t get there but [Smith] could have easily supplanted Greg Norman as the second-best player of all time from Australia. That’s at least in my view where Cameron Smith was headed.
“That’s what he’s turned his back on and a lot of it has to do with Greg Norman, and Cam Smith got a lot of bad advice from his agents and other people in the game around him trying to suck him into LIV.”
Smith will miss out on a defence of his Players Championship title at TPC Sawgrass this week with LIV players unable to compete on the PGA Tour.
The Australian rose to number two in the world rankings last July and was named PGA Tour Player of the Year at the end of the 2022 season after claiming two of golf’s most prestigious tournament crowns.
For Chamblee, Smith’s talent brought back memories of both Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros, and the American thinks it is a shame to no longer have him competing regularly alongside the sport’s best players.
“He had the potential to be an absolute great player,” Chamblee explained. “If you look at the qualities that he had, the age that he was, he was a great scrambler – and is likely [still] – a great scrambler, great putter, a great shot maker.
“Players like Tom Watson come to mind. At the age of 25 until [Watson] was 35, he had 35 wins, won eight major championships, really hit his stride at 27, which is what Cam Smith was last year. Twenty-seven, 28, 29, five wins, five wins, five wins in each of those years. Seven wins when he was 30 years of age, these prime years.
“And when you think of Seve Ballesteros, from the time he was 22 until he was 31 he won five majors. He set the world on fire and was fairly much the same type of player that we saw in Cameron Smith last year at St Andrews. These are exciting players – scramblers, they’re unpredictable, they break your heart and then they do monumentally unbelievable things.”