Seth Udinski, FISM News
2022 British Open champion Cameron Smith is defecting to LIV Golf, reports revealed on Tuesday.
He will be joining what is becoming a mass exodus of big-name golfers from the PGA to the upstart Saudi-backed circuit that offers the opportunity to make big money, including reported guaranteed contracts worth more than $100 million for some well-known players.
After Smith’s Open win earlier in the summer, the No. 2 ranked golfer in the world, still a member of the PGA at the time, was notably cryptic about his future with the organization, leaving many to speculate if he would defect.
ESPN reported on Tuesday that four other professional golfers are joining Smith, including fellow Aussie and six-time PGA tour winner Marc Leishman, Americans Harold Varner III and Cameron Tringale, and Anirban Lahiri of India.
Sports analysts uniformly agree that Smith’s defection to LIV could be a crushing blow to the PGA. Smith is in the prime of his career, and coming off an impressive Open win, he is considered one of the best up-and-coming golfers in the world.
He admitted, as many have speculated, that his decision was influenced by the opportunity to make more money with LIV, though he said it was primarily based on an appealing schedule. He told Golf Digest,
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. 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.
One of Smith’s fellow defectors, Harold Varner II, revealed what seems to be the driving force behind many big names who have gone to LIV: it serves as an opportunity that is too good to pass by.
The opportunity to join LIV Golf is simply too good of a financial breakthrough for me to pass by. I know what it means to grow up without much. This money is going to ensure that my kid and future Varners will have a solid base to start on and a life I could have only dreamt about growing up. It’ll also help fund many of the programs I’m building with my Foundation. I’ll continue to forge pathways for kids interested in golf. This note is a receipt for that.
Charl Schwartzel won the inaugural LIV event in June, winning $4.75 million. That was more than the former Master’s champion had made in any calendar year during his two decades on the PGA Tour.
This report comes only days after Fed-Ex Cup champion Rory McIlroy, who sits one spot behind Smith in the world rankings, sang the praises of the PGA following his win on Sunday.
Smith joins the likes of Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, and several other high profile competitors.