AAP Golf

McIlroy supports ‘honest’ Aussie Cam Smith

By AAP Newswire

Rory McIlroy has been impressed by Cameron Smith's recent Sony Open victory in Hawaii and his honesty when talking about Patrick Reed's cheating saga.

US PGA Tour officials have paid Smith a compliment in placing the Queenslander with four-time major winner McIlroy and American Brandt Snedeker in a marquee group at this week's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in California.

It is Smith's first start since earning a maiden individual win on the US PGA Tour two weeks ago, while McIlroy is making his 2020 debut at the famed California course near San Diego.

Outspoken on issues from slow play to drug testing, McIlroy supported Smith's frank comments when asked about Patrick Reed's cheating scandal in the Bahamas in December.

"He's been very honest over the past couple months, which is a good thing," McIlroy told AAP at Torrey Pines on Tuesday.

American Reed was caught violating the rules and copped a two-stroke penalty after TV cameras captured him making improper swings in a waste bunker at the Hero World Challenge.

World No.33 Smith was quizzed by reporters about the Reed incident at the Australian Open a day later, where he said he "doesn't have any sympathy for anyone that cheats".

It lit a fuse for the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, where Reed was heckled relentlessly by the fans.

Reed's caddie, Kessler Karain, was involved in an altercation with a fan on the third day and was suspended by the PGA Tour from caddying on the final day at Royal Melbourne.

Last week, Golf Digest (US) reported that, "According to a source, an official from the PGA Tour spoke to Smith about the remarks, essentially issuing a warning that he would be fined in the future if he made similar statements."

Northern Irishman McIlroy, a former Australian Open winner, was also impressed with 26-year-old Smith's Sony Open victory in a sudden-death play-off and his singles victory over Justin Thomas at the Presidents Cup.

"I thought Cam's birdie (to force a play-off) at the Sony was huge," the world No.2 said.

"He's been playing clutch, especially that singles match against 'JT' at the Presidents Cup.

"He's been playing great for a long time and he has a great attitude.

"He knows who he is, what he can do and that there are going to be certain courses like (Sony Open host) Waialae Country Club that suit him more than other courses.

"He's aggressive seems and always plays well once he gets himself in contention. I'm looking forward to playing with him this week."