Smith the only LIV Golf player with pre-Masters news conference

The 150th Open Championship
Golf - The 150th Open Championship - Old Course, St Andrews, Scotland, Britain - July 17, 2022 Australia's Cameron Smith tees off on the 18th during the final round REUTERS/Paul Childs

March 31 (Reuters) - British Open champion Cameron Smith is the only LIV Golf player at next week's Masters who is on the pre-tournament interview schedule, according to the list provided by Augusta National Golf Club on Friday.

The Australian world number five, who is one of 18 LIV Golf players in the field for the year's first major, is scheduled to be in the interview room at 3:00 p.m. ET (1900 GMT) on Monday.

Among the other LIV Golf players competing at the April 6-9 Masters are former champions Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzel, though none are on the interview room schedule.

Next week's Masters is the first since the launch of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit that has divided the sport as it lured top players from the PGA Tour with huge paydays while the two sides entered an ongoing legal battle.

Critics say LIV Golf, which is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, amounts to "sportswashing" by a nation trying to improve its reputation in the face of criticism over its human rights record.

Five-time winner Tiger Woods, who has made one start on the PGA Tour this year given his limited playing schedule following a February 2021 car crash, is scheduled to be in the interview room on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. ET.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto Editing by Christian Radnedge

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