ATLANTA — Like Billy Horschel approached the 18th green during the final round of Sunday’s Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club, he couldn’t help but wonder if this was the last time he played with his good friend , Cameron Smithon the PGA Tour.
Horschel and Smith both live in Ponte Vedra, Florida. They play golf together and go offshore fishing in their spare time.
“If he were to leave, that would be the biggest loss in my mind because you look at his age and what he has achieved,” Horschel said. “Look at the person he is. He’s a great lad and he represents himself very well, and he does it the right way. If he goes, that would be the biggest loss because I’m biased. C is one of my best friends.”
Smith, 29, is leaving the PGA Tour for LIV Golf, the new tour announced Tuesday. Smith is No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking and won the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews in July. from Chile Joaquin Niemann (the 19th player in the world), Harold Varner III (No. 46), Cameron Tringale (#55), Australia Marc Leishman (No. 62) and India Anirban Lahiri (n°92) also join LIV Golf, which is financed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
LIV Golf said all six players will compete in its fourth event, which kicks off Friday at the International outside of Boston.
“LIV Golf is showing the world that our truly global league attracts the best players in the world and will move the game into the future for the next generation,” said CEO and Commissioner of LIV Golf. Greg Norman said in a statement. “The best and the brightest continue to embrace the excitement and energy of LIV Golf and what we are building: a tangible league for team golf that will connect with new audiences all over the world. We We look forward to playing this week at the International and providing another memorable event experience for fans.”
Smith is the PGA Tour’s biggest loss. The Australian is at the height of his career, having won The Players in March and his first major championship at the 150th Open Championship. Smith is a six-time PGA Tour winner and a popular player among fans and fellow competitors.
“He’s a good friend of mine,” says the Aussie Adam Scott said. “I play a lot of practice rounds with Cam. I’m going to miss that. He’s one less good player I have to beat, though.”
Smith and Niemann, who won the wire-to-wire at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera in February, were automatically qualified for the international team that will compete in the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 20. 25.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has suspended players for participating in LIV golf tournaments without posting conflicting events. Since the Presidents Cup is sanctioned by the PGA Tour, Smith and Niemann will not be eligible to play. It’s a blow for the international team, which already appeared as a major outsider for the Americans.
International Team Captain Trevor Immelman is due to announce its captain’s picks on September 6. Hideki Matsuyama, I am SunjaeTom Kim, Corey Conners, Myth Pereira and Scott qualified for the team. Immelman will add six players to the 12-man roster.
“All I can say is Trevor is as prepared as he can be for anything,” Scott said. “I really feel for him. He’s been in a tough spot for quite a while. He’s got a plan, and whoever he has to go with, he’s going to go with it. It’s just a fact that we’re the underdogs and it’s a stacked American team, even with potentially some [of their] the guys also miss, but not in the 11th hour.”
Pereira, who had a lead at the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills and tied for third, will also head to LIV Golf at some point in the future, sources previously told ESPN.
Captain of the American team Davis Love III will also add six captain’s picks on Sept. 7. Patrick Canlay, Sam Burns, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauele and Tony Finau are already qualified.