Cameron Smith defects to LIV golf after conclusion of PGA Tour season

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The LIV Golf Invitational Series announced On Tuesday, it added Cameron Smith, the world’s second-ranked golfer and this year’s British Open champion, making the Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway league the highest-ranked golfer.

Smith, a 29-year-old Australian, has racked up three wins this season, including the British Open in July and the Players Championship in March. He also finished in the top 10 in four of his six trips to the Masters – tied for third in this year’s tournament – and placed 20th at the season-closing Tour Championship, which concluded on Sunday.

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Joaquin Niemann will also leave the PGA Tour for LIV, giving it another top 20 golfer. Niemann ranks 19th in the world and has two PGA Tour wins in his career, including one this year at the Genesis Invitational in California. LIV also announced the additions of Harold Varner III (No. 46 in the world), Cameron Tringale (55), Marc Leishman (62) and Anirban Lahiri (92).

It is rumored that Smith has been jumping to LIV for weeks, with speculation that he would receive a nine-figure salary simply for entering the new league, which offers a slightly shorter schedule than the PGA Tour and guaranteed tournament payments. The next LIV event kicks off Friday outside of Boston, and Smith will join major championship winners such as Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson.

The PGA Tour has banned players who have defected to LIV, and on Friday the new league attached its name to an antitrust lawsuit filed by some of its players against the PGA Tour. In the amended complaint, the LIV players say the PGA Tour is “an entrenched monopolist with an unsound grip on professional golf” and that it has violated federal antitrust laws in its efforts to “crush emerging competition before it threatens the Tour’s monopoly.” .”

LIV also strives to get its tournaments recognized by the Official World Golf Ranking, which would help its players qualify for major championships (which are not hosted by the PGA Tour). Without an OWGR sanction, most LIV players will struggle to qualify for the four biggest tournaments on the professional golf schedule.

Smith and the other recent big winners who defect to LIV – it now includes the winners of 12 of the last 24 grand slam events — won’t have that problem, at least in the short term and assuming the big championships don’t change their qualifying rules. By winning the British Open, Smith was given a five-year exemption from the other majors, and he has an invitation to play in the British Open until he turns 60.

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Last week, the PGA Tour announced sweeping changes in an effort to prevent the biggest names from jumping to LIV. The tour’s top 20 players will commit to play in at least 20 events, including the four majors and the FedEx Cup playoffs, and the tour also increased the prize pool for four non-major tournaments, adding $20 million in prize money at each. In addition, the tour will expand its Player Impact Program, a bonus system introduced last year as a way to reward players who help promote the game, and give all players a guaranteed minimum of $500,000, primarily to pave the way for players who may struggle to keep their tour tickets (tour rookies receive the money at the start of the season).

A number of high-level PGA Tour players, such as 2022 rookie of the year contender Cameron Young and former Masters champions Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott, were rumored to be considering moving to LIV, but for now they are sticking to the more established tour.

“We don’t know who will go after this week or next year,” Young said at the Tour Championship on Sunday. “I think there’s a really nice core group of guys who just stay, and a lot of them are highly regarded players in the world. I don’t think the competition on the PGA Tour will go significantly downhill.”

Smith and Niemann’s defection to LIV will also open up spots for the international team at the Presidents Cup, which takes place next month. Smith and Niemann had both earned enough qualifying points to earn a place on Captain Trevor Immelman’s squad, but their PGA Tour suspensions also extend to the Presidents Cup.

LIV Golf, which has hosted three tournaments and has five more scheduled this year, is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. LIV’s opponents have criticized it as an attempt to “sport” the nation’s shaky human rights record.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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