Cameron Smith defaults on LIV Golf after PGA Tour season ends

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The LIV Golf Invitation Series announcement Tuesday that he added Cameron Smith, the second golfer in the world and this year’s British Open championgiving the Saudi-backed separatist league its highest-ranked player.

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

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

Smith has been rumored to be moving to LIV for weeks, with speculation that he’ll receive a nine-figure paycheck just for joining the new league, which offers a slightly shorter schedule than the PGA Tour and days of guaranteed tournament payouts. The next LIV event begins Friday outside of Boston, and Smith will join major championship winners such as Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson.

The The PGA Tour banned players who defected to LIVand 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, LIV players claim that the PGA Tour is “an entrenched monopoly with a vice grip on professional golf” and that it violated federal antitrust laws in its efforts “to crush nascent competition before that it threatens the monopoly of the Tour”.

LIV is also seeks to have its tournaments recognized by the Official World Golf Ranking, which would help its players qualify for major championships (which are not organized by the PGA Tour). Without OWGR sanction, most LIV players will struggle to qualify for the four biggest tournaments in the pro golf program.

Smith and other recent big winners have defected to LIV – it now features the winners of 12 of the last 24 major events — will not have this problem, at least in the short term and assuming that the major championships do not modify their qualification rules. By winning the British Open, Smith received a five-year exemption from other majors, and he has an invitation to play at the British Open until he turns 60.

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Last week, the PGA Tour announced drastic changes in an effort to prevent its biggest names from moving to LIV. The tour’s top 20 players will commit to playing in at least 20 events, including all four major tournaments and FedEx Cup playoffs, and the tour has also bolstered prize money for four non-major tournaments, offering 20 million dollars in prizes to each. Additionally, the Tour will expand its Player Impact Program, a bonus system introduced last year to reward players who help promote the game, and will give all of its players a guaranteed minimum of $500,000, primarily to ease the way for players who might have trouble keeping their tour cards (tour rookies will get the money at the start of the season).

Rumor has it that a number of high-profile PGA Tour players, such as 2022 Rookie of the Year contender Cameron Young and former Masters champions Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott, were considering switching to LIV, but for the moment, they stick to the more established tour.

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“We don’t know who will go after this week or next year,” Young said. said Sunday at the Tour Championship. “I think there’s a really good core group of guys who are going to stay, and a lot of them are very highly ranked players around the world. I don’t think the competition on the PGA Tour is going to deteriorate in a way. significant.

Smith and Niemann’s defections to LIV will also open up spots on the international team at the Presidents Cup, which takes place next month. Both Smith and Niemann had earned enough qualifying points to earn spots on captain Trevor Immelman’s team, but their PGA Tour suspensions also apply to the Presidents Cup.

LIV Golf, which has hosted three tournaments and has five more on the schedule this year, is funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund. LIV’s detractors criticized it as an attempt to “sports wash” the country’s poor human rights record.

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