Open champion Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann among latest PGA Tour stars to join LIV Golf

·3-min read
Open champion Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann among latest PGA Tour stars to join LIV Golf

Cameron Smith is one of six PGA Tour players to have become the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series’ latest signings.

The Australian, who won the 150th Open earlier this summer at St Andrews has been confirmed in the field for the breakway circuit’s fourth event, starting later this week in Boston.

As the current world number two and winner this year of the PGA Tour’s flagship event, the Players Championship, it is a major coup for Greg Norman and LIV Golf.

Smith’s move has not been a secret, with it widely reported he was set to turn away from the PGA Tour in recent weeks. The 29-year-old refused to rule it out when questioned following his Open win.

“I don’t know, mate,” Smith responded when asked in July if he would be joining LIV Golf.

“My team worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”

He added: “I just won The Open, and you’re asking about that. I think that’s not good.”

Joaquin Niemann will join him in the field in Boston, the Chilean the highest ranked player in the world under the age of 25. It comes despite his attendance recently at a meeting led by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy on the future of the PGA Tour.

As with Smith, Niemann’s move has a significant impact on the International team for the Presidents Cup nextmonth.

The pair would have been two of the best players competing against the USA team but, as with PGA Tour events, those involved in the LIV Golf Series are banned from participating.

Marc Leishman and Anirban Lahiri are two of the other players who have also now joined LIV, so will now compete either Presidents Cup, while Louis Oosthuizen and Abraham Ancer among those to have already defected earlier this year.

American duo Harold Varner III and Cameron Tringale complete the group of six new names announced for the event in Boston, with Varner making the jump despite previously revealing he had opted against joining the breakaway tour after conversations with Michael Jordan.

The LIV announcement comes just days after Smith and Niemann competed at the Tour Championship, the final event of the FedEx Cup play-offs and the culmination of the PGA Tour season. They finished 11th and 20th respectively.

Rory McIlroy won the FedEx Cup for the third time in sensational fashion, coming from six shots behind going into the final round, and he once again championed the PGA Tour in his press conference afterwards.

The 33-year-old admitted it will be awkward for him to play alongside LIV players at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in September, with Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood amogn those likely to be in the field.

‘I hate what it’s doing to the game of golf, I hate it,” McIlroy said. “I really do. It’s going to be hard for me to stomach going to Wentworth in a couple of weeks’ time and seeing 18 of them there. That just doesn’t sit right with me.

“So yeah, I feel strongly. I believe what I’m saying are the right things and I think when you believe that what you’re saying is the right thing, you’re happy to stick your neck out on the line.”