The reigning British Open champion Cameron Smith has joined the breakaway LIV Golf Series, which said on Tuesday that he will be competing in its next tournament.
The Australian was one of six new players signed up for the Saudi-sponsored LIV Golf Invitational Boston tour, which ran from September 2–4.
The 29-year-old Smith, who is now rated second in the world, will be the top competitor in a LIV Golf tournament.
Smith avoided talking about LIV Golf while competing in this month’s PGA FedEx Cup playoffs despite being often connected to the company immediately after winning the 150th British Open at St. Andrews last month.
In addition to Smith, five other golfers will be making their professional debuts at the International in Massachusetts, including fellow countryman Marc Leishman, top-ranked pro Joaquin Niemann of Chile, Harold Varner III (world no. 46), Cameron Tringale (55), and top-ranked Indian Anirban Lahiri (92).
Numerous well-known athletes, including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed, and Dustin Johnson, have been drawn to LIV Golf’s record $25 million prizes and 54-hole format.
But the US PGA tour has acrimoniously split from it since it was founded, and several lawsuits have followed.
The “Hard Times”
Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner, has been one of the players who has criticised LIV Golf the loudest.
And on Sunday, after taking home the 18 million top prize in the PGA Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta, the 33-year-old Northern Irishman drove home his argument.
It matters a great deal, according to McIlroy. “This is a time in which I am tremendously pleased, but it should also be a one in which the PGA Tour is incredibly proud. This year has been difficult for them, but we’re managing.
Players of the LIV have been criticised of being greedy for pursuing the enormous profits on offer and have faced difficult concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
Because there is no midway cut and only a limited number of players compete in 54-hole tournaments rather than the customary 72, players like McIlroy have basically implied that LIV events are nothing more than exhibitions of golf.
Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA, said last week that tour players have committed to participate in 20 tournaments, including 12 “elevated” stops with a total prize pool of $20 million and minimum season pay rates for completely exempt players.
England’s Lee Westwood, one of the players that joined LIV Golf because of its record $25 million prizes, said in an interview with Golf Digest that he believes the PGA is attempting to imitate what LIV Golf has already accomplished.
Westwood told the magazine, “I giggle at what the PGA Tour guys have come up with.” It’s only a replication of what LIV is doing. There are many hypocrites in the world.
Everyone claims that LIV is ‘not competitive’. They all highlight LIV’s no-cut nature and its small fields. Funny enough, they are now recommending 20 events that closely resemble LIV.