Smith would be among six new players signed with LIV contracts and announced this weekGetty Images
Cam Smith “refused to speak to reporters after completing the final round of the Tour Championship on Sunday on the eve of his scheduled transfer to LIV Golf this week for his event outside of Boston,” according to MORNING READ’s Bob Harig. It’s “a poorly kept secret for weeks, and Smith’s own words suggested nothing other than quitting the PGA Tour.” It was reported over the weekend by various outlets that Smith would be “among six new players signed to LIV contracts and announced this week.” Billy Horschel, who said he is staying on the PGA Tour, said of Smith: “If he were to go it would be the biggest loss in my mind. You look at his age, you look at what he accomplished, how well he performed in star-studded events” (SI.com, 8/28). In Atlanta, Chris Vivlamore writes that Smith “has long been the subject of LIV Golf departure rumors.” But he has “not yet said publicly”. He refused to speak to reporters “several times at the Tour Championship”. While Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka “have perhaps the greatest name recognition among those who left for the controversial Saudi-backed golf league, Smith has the greatest current reputation.” There was “little reaction from fans when Smith joined LIV at the Tour Championship”. A fan was heard shouting “Live for now” on the first tee on Sunday (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/29).
ANOTHER TOP PLAYER TO JOIN LIV: In London, James Corrigan reports that LIV Golf is ‘on the verge of stealing one of the most exciting young players in the game’, while Joaquin Niemann is ‘due to be unveiled’ later today. The ‘capture of Niemann – the world’s highest-ranked player under the age of 25 – will raise eyebrows in the locker room because the Chilean was part of last week’s elite players’ meeting. In addition to the PGA Tour, Niemann’s defection “would be a huge setback for Trevor Immelman, the captain of the International team who will face the United States in the Presidents Cup in four weeks” (London Telegraph, 8/29). Longtime PGA Tour player Cameron Tringale also announced on his Twitter yesterday that he is not renewing his PGA Tour membership for next season and is joining LIV (SBJ).
OTHER YOUNG GUNS BY PGA TOUR: GOLF DIGEST’s Joel Beall noted that Cameron Young, who was an Open Championship runner-up, said he was “staying with the PGA Tour.” But he also “looked like a man who was about to jump ship.” After the Tour Championship, Young “admitted to a group of reporters in Atlanta that he was intrigued by the Saudi-backed circuit.” Young said he was “staying with the tour, apparently thanks to the changes that came from the players-only meeting led by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods during the BMW Championship”. Young: “With some of these changes coming, that’s what really helped me decide to stay and pursue the goals I’ve set for myself, like being part of the Presidents Cup team or the Ryder Cup and winning a major when it’s all uncertain.” if you are going to” (GOLFDIGEST.com, 8/28). After months of “speculation, Hideki Matsuyama would stick with the PGA Tour”. Matsuyama “confirmed that he is not leaving the Tour to sign with LIV Golf.” Trevor Immelman’s international team have “taken blow after blow and would take more with the decisions of Smith and Co.” However, he will “at least still have Matsuyama, who is expected to make his fifth appearance in biennial matches” (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 8/28).
WHAT’S THE POINT? In London, David Walsh wrote of LIV’s future: “I don’t see it as what his brains want it to be.” In exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars, they “got a top-20 player in the world”, although Smith was a runner-up. LIV’s “dream of having the best players on her tour died as PGA Tour loyalists gathered in a boardroom” in Delaware last week. It was the “moment when the balance of power swung to the PGA Tour” (London TIMES, 8/28). In Columbus, Rob Oller explained why LIV Golf “leaves me cold.” Oller: “I’m not happy that the start-up league is financed by the Saudis.” But “few LIV players are particularly likable either.” The “majority of LIV fields consist of has-beens and never-was”. LIV is “exhibition golf, pure and simple”. But “unfortunately, the PGA Tour is moving in the same direction by increasing the number of no-cut events” (COLUMBUS EXPEDITION, 8/26).