The American insisted this week it had now become “personal” and denied deliberately breaching the rules of golf.
On the eve of the Presidents Cup, in which Smith is one of seven debutants on Els’ International team, the Queenslander said whatever connection he had with the former US Masters champion was now over.
I think our friendship, I guess, is not quite there any more. I’m sure he didn’t like it. I think there is a little bit of tension there.
“I definitely won’t go out of my way [to speak to him],” Smith said. “I think our friendship, I guess, is not quite there any more. I’m sure he didn’t like it. I think there is a little bit of tension there. I’ve looked at Patrick a couple times, but he hasn’t looked back. I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
Smith’s remarks have been the most pointed of any of Reed’s fellow professionals and have helped spark renewed interest in the Presidents Cup, which has been hopelessly one-sided in its history.
Smith could still be matched against Reed across either of Friday and Saturday’s sessions – or even in the Sunday singles – with all team members having to play a minimum of two matches.
Els had the chance to seal the promoter’s dream in Thursday’s pairings when playing-captain Woods nominated Reed and Webb Simpson for the fourth fourball match, but he opted for Hideki Matsuyama and CT Pan.
“We share a physio out there,” Smith said of his association with Reed. “We would talk and chat in the locker room, but nothing much more than that. Just a friendly type thing.
“[But I] really think it’s a game of team versus team. I think it’s a case of what’s right and what’s wrong.”
International leader Adam Scott said he was still expecting big things from Smith this week.
“I think he’s going to be a silent assassin,” Scott said.
“There’s a lot more fire in these guys’ bellies than we see week in and week out and maybe an event like this brings it out in them. All these guys can sneak up and surprise a few people.”
Former world No.1 and American giant Dustin Johnson will return from a months-long injury lay-off to play in Thursday’s final match with Gary Woodland against Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen.
Johnson pulled out of Woods’ Hero World Challenge as a precaution while he recovers from knee surgery, but claimed he was 100 per cent for the Presidents Cup.
Asked if he expected to play across the five sessions, Johnson said: “I have not asked. I would say
probably not, but I would play most of them. I’ll play as many as Tiger wants me to play. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t ready to play.”
Follow our live coverage of the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne from Thursday morning.
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.