British Open champion Cameron Smith of Australia is among several US PGA Tour players to defect to Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf Series, according to multiple reports Sunday (AEST).
World No. 2 Smith was the subject of several reports about joining LIV Golf shortly after beating the Claret Jug last month, but avoided discussing the topic during the PGA FedEx Cup playoffs this month.
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The Golf Channel, ESPN and Sports Illustrated, citing unnamed sources, report that several high-profile PGA players were waiting for Sunday’s PGA Tour Championship in Atlanta to announce their plans to join LIV Golf.
According to Sports Illustrated and ESPN, Smith will play next week’s LIV Golf in Boston alongside compatriot Mark Leishman, Indian Anirban Lahiri, Chilean Joaquin Niemann and Americans Harold Varner and Cameron Tringale. while the Golf Channel named all but Lahiri.
Chilean Mito Pereira will also leave for LIV Golf but is unsure of his place in Boston, leaving his status up in the air for next month’s President’s Cup in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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The tag team competition pitting Team USA against a non-European Internationals roster will not be open to any player banned by the PGA, and all players who have started in any LIV Golf tournament have been immediately suspended indefinitely.
LIV Golf’s record-breaking $25 million wallets and 54-hole format drew several big-name players into a streak of upstarts, including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Kepka, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reid and Dustin Johnson. .
The Internationals roster has already suffered from the transfer of South African Luis Oosthuizen and several compatriots to LIV Golf, as well as Mexican Abraham Unser and Carlos Ortiz.
“Our players have chosen me to lead the international team to the best of my ability and I will carry out this honor to the fullest,” international team captain Trevor Immelman of South Africa told the Golf Channel.
“All I can control is the experience that the 12 players who want to make it to the Presidents’ Cup will get.” Smith and Niemann are among the players who were named to the national team on points. Immelman is expected to be able to replace any unavailable players who were placed on the team on points with additional captaincy selections.