British Open champion and LIV Golf rebel Cameron Smith claimed Wednesday that the world golf rankings are becoming "obsolete" as a consequence of the sport's civil war.
The 29-year-old Australian joined the controversial breakaway series last year after rising to number two in the world.
That followed a series of spectacular performances, including winning the 150th British Open at St Andrews, the Players Championship, the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and the Australian PGA Championship. He has, however, slipped to number four in the rankings.
The Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) Board received an application from LIV Golf in July last year, but is yet to make any announcement.
In the meantime, former world number one Dustin Johnson has fallen to 46, Bryson DeChambeau has slipped from 24 to 96, while Phil Mickelson is 254th compared to 38th at this time last year.
"I've tried not to take it that badly, to be honest," said Smith on Wednesday as he prepared to play the Asian Tour's $5 million season-opener, the Saudi International which features a host of LIV players.
"I think when you rock up at a tournament, you know who you have to beat, whether there is a world ranking or not. There are generally seven-eight guys that are in that field that you know are going to put up a pretty good fight.
"For sure, it hurts. I feel as though I was really close to getting to number one, and that was definitely something I wanted to tick off. However, the longer this stuff goes on, I think the more obsolete those rankings become."
Smith said it would be difficult to replicate a season like 2022, but he is hoping he can make a similar start like last year when he won the Tournament of Champions with a record score of 34-under par.
- 'Tough one' -
"I think 2022 probably would be a really tough one to back up," said Smith, who started his professional career with a season on the Asian Tour before securing his card on the PGA Tour.
"It's just about keeping the same processes going, really digging deep, working hard on my game. I think that is really what I need to do. Everything becomes easy when you're playing good golf."
There is a question mark over Johnson's participation this week. On Wednesday, he pulled out of the ProAm for unspecified reasons and his scheduled press conference was cancelled as well.
Former Masters champion Sergio Garcia is also in the field, returning following a right-knee operation in November.
"It went well. It feels probably about 95 percent. It doesn't bother me to swing anymore. Now it is just a matter of getting used to walking holes over and over again," said 43-year-old Garcia, who is also playing the Asian Tour International Series Oman in Muscat next week.
"After three months off, I want to get some rounds in me. We are going to play these two tournaments and then we have the LIV opener in Mexico before we head to Orlando.
"I will have those four tournaments heading into Augusta, and it is just a matter of getting in a good rhythm and get to the Masters in as good shape as I can."