Aussie superstar Smith was the toast of the sport less than 18 months ago when he won the British Open – his first major trophy.
But weeks later he jumped ship to the controversial Saudi-backed league, where he has won three times and pocketed tens of millions of dollars – aside from his $140m sign-on fee.
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While the LIV league is making players like Smith uber-rich, the tournaments are not viewed with as much esteem as tours such as the PGA, DP World and Asian.
Smith, 30, is undoubtedly one of the best golfers on the planet currently, but Pampling knows it’s hard to compare him now to those on rival tours.
“It’s an interesting time with LIV Golf,” Pampling told media ahead of the Australian PGA Championship in Brisbane.
“There’s not the PGA Tour wins and the European Tour wins that he (Smith) will be able to build on, and we still don’t know what the future holds for that.
“It’s a tough one to pick because you’re not going to have these events to put against the players (of past generations).
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“If they’ve won 20-30 (events), and now whatever (Smith has) won, he’s not going to add to that (on the PGA Tour)
“That’s where it’s a tough one to say whether he (will be regarded) as one of the greats of Australian golf.”
Smith won six PGA Tour events – highlighted by the 2022 Open and Players Championship – and was ranked No.2 in the world when he ditched the Tour to join LIV.
With the Official Golf World Rankings board so far refusing to acknowledge LIV, the rebel players have been unable to accrue points.
It means Smith has slipped from No.2 to No.18 in the rankings. While he is exempt from qualifying for golf’s four majors for several years thanks to his British Open win, other LIV players aren’t so fortunate.
“It’s just a shame that LIV and the (rival tours) have split so much that it doesn’t allow a guy’s career to grow into being just one. It’s going to be this or this,” Pampling said.
“It’s an interesting time for the guys coming through, and where are they going to fit into the legendary status of the game just because they’ve split.”
While the PGA Tour did a deal with Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund, it’s yet to be clarified what that means for LIV events and players next season.
Pampling will line up alongside Smith – as well fellow Aussie superstars like Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, and Min Woo Lee – for the Australian PGA Championship from Thursday.