Cameron Smith Declares ‘Business’ Case, But LIV Golf’s Defection Clouds His Legacy | Angus Fountain

VSAmeron Smith is already “a very cashed-out Queensland bogan” according to his manager Grant Field, having pocketed more than $14 million in prize money this year. But the world’s No. 2 working-class hero will earn around 10 times that amount now that he’s become the villain of mustachioed golf by officially joining rival series LIV Golf.

The decision, fresh off his first major win at the Open in July, will scare traditionalists. Smith, 29, was closing in on the No.1 ranking, a feat only three Aussies have achieved, and has the game to shake the history books. Instead, he will risk his future and his legacy, to take on lesser players on poorer courses on golf’s version of a gap year.

Greg Norman confirmed on Tuesday what has long been rumored. Smith will turn his back on the PGA tour to join the rebel tour led by fellow Australian Norman, CEO and chief spruiker of LIV, and funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The move, Smith revealed to Golf Digest, was primarily a lifestyle decision. “The most important thing for me to join is [LIV’s] the schedule is really appealing,” Smith said. “I will be able to spend more time at home in Australia and maybe organize an event there as well. I wasn’t able to do that, and getting that part of my life back was really appealing.

LIV is a classic more-for-less equation. LIV translates to 54 in Roman numerals and LIV players must play 54 holes over three rounds, not the PGA’s 72 holes over four. For Smith, that means more time fishing for leather jackets in Australia than hunting green jackets in Augusta, watching rugby league and dealing with cars with his friends.

LIV’s heavily truncated eight-tournament schedule also allows Smith to spend more time with his family. Winning the Players Championship in March was the first time Smith had seen his mother Sharon and younger sister Mel in more than two years. He suffered from homesickness early in his Tour career in 2013 but settled in Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville in 2015.

A $143 million signing fee for LIV membership will further energize Smith’s lifestyle away from golf. Smith is proudly a blue collar worker with all the hunger and ambition that comes with it. “[Money] was definitely a factor in making that decision, I’m not going to ignore it or say it wasn’t a reason,” he said. “It was a business decision, an offer I couldn’t ignore.”

LIV’s website trumpets its form of play as “golf, but louder”. It’s a scramble for players and agents. This week’s LIV Golf Invitational Boston, in which Smith will make his LIV player debut for the first time, has A$36.2m to be split among just 48 pros – A$5.8m to the winner of the tournament and even in last place. getter pocketing A$174,000.

LIV also features a “clubs” event where the 48 players on the tour split into 12 teams with names like Crushers, Fireballs, Hy Flyers to compete for an additional $7.2 million at each event. This could be an added boost behind Smith’s LIV decision. He’s crazy about team sports, brought up on the Queensland Origin mania by a crazy grandfather who was a champion bull.

Last month, Smith was watching with excitement next month’s Presidents Cup squads event at Quail Hollow, where he was automatically selected for the international team. But his LIV change now rules him out (winning Smith’s Open in July still secures him an annual invite until he turns 60), and from Friday he won’t earn ranking points either. global.

Smith and fellow Aussie Marc Leishman are both managed by golf super agent Bud Martin. Their double defection brings Norman’s zealous quest for an Australian team to contest the LIV ‘club’ shootout one step closer to reality. Of LIV’s eight Australian signings, Australian PGA Champion Jediah Morgan and Wade Ormsby make four fights.

“LIV Golf shows 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 Norman. Signing Smith and Leishman firmly brings Norman’s dream back to center stage. He and Rupert Murdoch proposed a World Golf Tour in 1994 only for the PGA to crush it.

Now Norman has world No. 2 – and some revenge on the PGA – the bold move will be to bring a LIV tournament to Australia, which Smith also craves. Despite golf’s state of flux, LIV players are still eligible for the Australian PGA at Royal Queensland in November and the Australian Open at Victoria Golf Course in December.

“These two big Australian events will mark the coming summer of golf, one of the biggest in years, and there’s no doubt our fans are looking forward to our growing lineup of homegrown stars like Cam Smith and Marc Leishman,” said Rodger, chairman of the PGA Australia. Davis said in a statement.

Norman revealed earlier this month that LIV was considering hosting an event in Australia in 2023 and researching potential venues. Royal Queensland is where Smith first plied his amateur trade while Norman has a history with the Australian golf course in Sydney. The question for these courses, as for Smith, remains: is the criticism worth it?

Cameron Smith Declares ‘Business’ Case, But LIV Golf’s Defection Clouds His Legacy | Angus Fountain

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