Poorly Cam Smith out of LIV Miami in pre-Masters scare

Cameron Smith has suffered a setback, having to pull out of his final warm-up event with illness just five days before his latest tilt at a Masters green jacket.

Australia's former world No.2, who's hoping to continue his fine record at Augusta National, faces going into the season's first major championship somewhat undercooked or, worse still, feeling under the weather when it starts on Thursday.

The 30-year-old Queenslander, winner of the 2022 British Open Championship, withdrew from LIV Golf’s event in Miami at Trump National Doral, with organisers not specifying his illness on Saturday.

Some reports around the Florida course suggested that Smith had suffered food poisoning, was withdrawing as a precaution but would definitely be ready for Augusta. 

Smith, who captains the all-Australian 'Ripper GC' team on the Saudi-backed tour's circuit, had endured an underwhelming opening round of three-over 75 in the opening round on Friday.

Veteran Sergio Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion, showed his readiness for another tilt at the green jacket next week as he took a two-shot lead at nine under on Saturday after shooting a 68.

He led from Talor Gooch (70), Matthew Wolff (69), Dean Burmester (69) and Tyrrell Hatton (67) who were tied second going into the final round.

Withdrawing is a setback for Smith after what has largely been a positive start to his 2024 campaign with two top-10 finishes in his first four events of the year, including a third-place finish at last month's LIV Hong Kong. 

Augusta National remains a happy hunting ground for him too with four top-10 finishes in the past six years, but illness looks to have struck at just the wrong time for the six-time PGA Tour winner and the 2022 Players' champion, who's annexed two individual LIV titles since his big-money move. 

Smith has now dropped to No.62 in the world rankings, which, controversially, don't include LIV results but has to be considered one of the favourites at the Masters and is desperate for a big week to help him rise in the rankings in a bid to make Australia's Olympic team again.

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