Former US President Donald Trump sees more major victories in Cameron Smith’s future after playing a nine-hole LIV Golf pro-am with the Australian star in New Jersey.

The most recent head of state before Joe Biden, and owner of the Trump Bedminster property where LIV is being staged at this week, Trump played the back nine at the New Jersey course with Smith on Thursday. He played the front nine with Patrick Reed. Trump marvelled at the putting prowess of last year’s Open champion Smith.

“Great putter, great chipper, great everything… he’s a great athlete,” Trump said of Smith.

After the round, Trump backed Smith to add to his major tally having won last year’s 150th Open at St Andrews. “I think he will win a lot [of majors]; he’s just such a great putter,” Trump told Australian Golf Digest. “His chipping is so great. Hits it wonderfully. Look at what he’s done already [at the majors]. And he’s always coming from behind… he’s a great [player] from behind.”

Trump was referring to Smith’s chasing down of a four-shot deficit to Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland starting the final round at St Andrews last July. Smith shot 64 to win by one, his first major win. Smith also has a stellar record in the other three majors: a tie for second [2020] and a tie for third [2022] at the Masters: a fourth [2023] and tie for fourth [2015] at the US Open; and a tie for ninth at the PGA [2023]. “He’s gonna do more,” Trump said. “If he’s in trouble, his short game can get him out. A lot of guys can’t do that. They can’t rely on that. Spectacular guy.”

Trump, who is listed as having a 2 handicap, said he enjoyed playing with Smith. “He’s a real star. He’s a fantastic guy. He doesn’t know he’s a star; he’s really just a regular guy but he’s a big star. But he doesn’t know it. I know a lot of people that are stars, and they think they’re bigger stars than they are. But Cam is a real champion, and I think he’s gonna win a lot of majors.”

Pressed for how many majors, and asked whether four or five is a realistic number, Trump said: “No because it could be more than that. But if he did that, it would be great, right?”

Smith said the entourage of Secret Service agents was eye-opener for an Australian.

“Yeah it was good to play with him; he’s always a laugh and he actually played pretty good,” Smith said. “[Secret Service detail] is pretty intimidating. There is lots of stuff he can’t do and but he’s a pretty laidback guy anyway.”