Shortly after Aussie Cameron Smith won The Open Championship at St. Andrews on Sunday, he raised eyebrows when asked if he was planning on abandoning the U.S. golf tour to join the Saudi-backed Live Invitational Series.
Several golfers from the PGA have joined the league, with top players getting up to $200 million to play the eight-event tour. So naturally, a cheeky reporter asked Smith if he, too, would bail.
“I just won the British Open, and you’re asking about that. I think that’s pretty not that good,” a miffed Smith said. But it was the rest of his answer that prompted questions. “I don’t know, mate,” Smith said. “My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.” Golf Digest noted that he didn’t reject the notion altogether, which he clearly could’ve done. Now comes a new report that Smith will be among six new members of the LIV series.
The Telegraph reports that Greg Norman, CEO of Saudi-backed LIV Golf, “is pursuing the prospect of an entirely Australian team that would include both Smith and Adam Scott.”The Mirror went further, saying: “Open Championship winner Cameron Smith is reportedly set to lead six more stars joining the rebel Saudi tour as the LIV Golf saga continues.”
Meanwhile, a report from Irish Golfer says another Aussie, Marc Leishman, is set to join the league, as are U.S. superstar Bubba Watson, 2023 European Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson, and England’s Tommy Fleetwood.
In recent weeks, a slew of PGA members has announced they will bail from the top league in the world to join LIV. Among them are Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Talor Gooch, Andy Ogletree, Branden Grace, Matt Jones, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel, Hudson Swafford, Peter Uihlein, Lee Westwood, and Turk Petit.
The exodus prompted the PGA to take serious action.
“We have followed the Tournament Regulations from start to finish in responding to those players who have decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour by willfully violating a regulation,” a PGA release last month read. “The players are being notified that they are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup. This also applies to all tours sanctioned by the PGA Tour: the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.”
“The players listed below did not receive the necessary conflicting events and media rights releases — or did not apply for releases at all — and their participation in the Saudi Golf League/LIV Golf event is a violation of our Tournament Regulations.”
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as a White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.