Cameron Smith Set for LIV Golf Debut

30 Aug

Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via Getty Images

In one of the least closely guarded secrets of this year’s turbulent golf season, Cameron Smith has been officially confirmed as the highest-ranked player to join the breakaway LIV Golf tour. The 2022 British Open champion, second in the world ranking, will be making his debut in the Boston Invitational (2-4 September).

The field will also include five other top international players joining the tour this week: fellow Australian Marc Leishman (ranked 62nd), Chilean Joaquin Niemann (19th), Indian Anirban Lahiri (92nd), and Americans Harold Varner III (46th) and Cameron Tringale (55th). In addition, two-time US Masters champion Bubby Watson will debut as a non-playing captain and make on-air contributions to live event coverage.    

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/LIV Golf via Getty Images

Smith said his decision to join LIV Golf, which was made official today after weeks of intense speculation, was motivated by his desire to spend several months each year in Australia. Speaking to Golf Digest magazine, he admitted that money was “definitely a factor in making that decision; I won’t ignore that or say that wasn’t a reason. It was obviously a business decision for one and an offer I couldn’t ignore.” According to reports, his signing-on deal was more than US $100 million.

He added, however, that money was not the main lure. “The biggest thing for me joining is (LIV’s) schedule is really appealing. I’ll be able to spend more time at home in Australia and maybe have an event down there, as well. I haven’t been able to do that, and to get that part of my life back was really appealing.”

The LIV off-season is expected to run from late October 2022 until mid-February 2023, and there will reportedly be at least one event in Australia in 2023 (possibly late-April in Sydney). “I’m sure with Leish and I playing it’ll be appealing for LIV (to take an event there),” Smith said. 

Photo by Charles Laberge/LIV Golf via Getty Images

The plans for next year include a renaming to the LIV Golf League, with 48 players in 12 team franchises playing a 14-event schedule (six more than this year).

According to 29-year-old Smith, who also won the US PGA Tour’s flagship tournament, the Players Championship, this year, professional golf needed a shake-up from its 72-hole individual stroke-play base.

“I think it’s been the same for a very, very long time, and it needs to be stirred up a little bit. I think this (54-hole team events) are the future of golf. I think it needs to change. Particularly as golf fans become younger, I think we need to do something to make it exciting for them.”

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