Open champion Cameron Smith, five others leave PGA Tour for LIV Golf

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ATLANTA — As Billy Horschel approached the 18th green in the final round of Sunday’s Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club, he wondered if it was the last time he would play with his good friend, Cameron Smith, at the PGA tour.

Horschel and Smith both live in Ponte Vedra, Florida. They play golf together and go fishing at sea in their spare time.

“If he goes, he would be the biggest loss in my mind because you look at his age and what he’s accomplished,” Horschel said. “Look at the person he is. He’s a great guy and represents himself very well, and he’s doing it the right way. If he happens to go, that would be the biggest loss because I’m biased. He’s one of my best friends .”

Smith, 29, is leaving the PGA Tour for LIV Golf, the new circuit announced Tuesday. Smith is No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking and won the 150th Open Championship in St Andrews in July. Joaquin Niemann from Chile (the 19th player in the world), Harold Varner III (No. 46), Cameron Tringale (No. 55), Australian Marc Leishman (No. 62) and Anirban Lahiri from India (No. 92) are also join LIV Golf, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.

LIV Golf said the six players will compete in the fourth event, which begins Friday at The International outside of Boston.

“LIV Golf shows the world that our truly global competition attracts the best players in the world and will grow the game into the future for the next generation,” said LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman in a statement. “The best and brightest continue to embrace the excitement and energy of LIV Golf and what we are building: a tangible team golf competition that will reach new audiences around the world. We can’t wait to tee off at The International this week and again deliver a memorable event experience for fans.”

Smith is the biggest loss for the PGA Tour. The Australian is in the prime of his career, winning The Players in March and his first major championship at the 150th Open Championship. Smith is a six-time winner of the PGA Tour and a popular player among fans and fellow competitors.

“He’s a good buddy of mine,” said Australian Adam Scott. “I play a lot of practice rounds with Cam. I will miss that. He is a less good player that I have to beat.”

Smith and Niemann, who were wire-to-wire winners at the Genesis Invitational in Riviera in February, were automatic qualifiers for the international team that will compete in the Presidents Cup on September 20 at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina. 25.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has banned players from participating in LIV Golf tournaments with no releases of conflicting events. Since the Presidents Cup is approved by the PGA Tour, Smith and Niemann are not eligible to play. It is a blow to the international team, which already seemed to be a big underdog for the Americans.

International team captain Trevor Immelman will announce his captain’s choices on September 6. Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im, Tom Kim, Corey Conners, Mito Pereira and Scott have qualified for the team. Immelman will add six players to the 12-man roster.

“All I can say is that Trevor is as prepared as possible for anything,” said Scott. “I really feel for him. He’s been in a tough spot for a while. He’s got a plan, and whatever plan he chooses, he’ll go with it. It’s just a fact that we’re the underdogs and it’s a stacked American team, even with possibly some [of their] boys also missing, just not at the 11th hour.”

Pereira, who had a lead on the 72nd hole at the PGA Championship in Southern Hills and tied for third, will also move to LIV Golf at some point in the future, sources previously told ESPN.

US team captain Davis Love III will also add six captaincy picks on September 7. Patrick Cantlay, Sam Burns, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau have already qualified.

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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