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Cameron Smith, Winner of This Yr’s British Open, Joins LIV Golf

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Cameron Smith, the world’s second-ranked golfer and a player whose exceptional final-round putting carried him to this 12 months’s British Open title, will join LIV Golf, the breakaway series financed with money from Saudi Arabia.

Smith is anticipated to play in LIV’s next 54-hole, no-cut tournament, which is able to begin Friday in Bolton, Mass., west of Boston. Five other players — Anirban Lahiri, Marc Leishman, Joaquin Niemann, Cameron Tringale and Harold Varner III — will even join a LIV field for the primary time, the series announced on Tuesday.

The moves by the players were widely expected but still bruised the PGA Tour, which has spent months trying to plan ways to maintain players in its establishment fold. Last week, Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, announced changes, including purses averaging $20 million at a dozen events next season, that executives hoped would higher position the tour to compete with the allure of LIV, which has enticed players with more relaxed schedules and, in some instances, contracts reportedly value a minimum of $100 million.

Smith, a 29-year-old from Australia who also won this 12 months’s Players Championship, was a number one goal for the series, which is underwritten by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. The potential for a Smith defection was such an open secret that a reporter asked Smith about it soon after he won the Open, where he shot an eight-under-par 64 on a Sunday to rally from a four-stroke deficit.

“I just won the British Open, and also you’re asking about that?” Smith said at a news conference then. “I feel that’s pretty not that good.”

A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series

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A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series

A recent series. The debut of the brand new Saudi-financed LIV Golf series has resurfaced longstanding questions on athletes’ moral obligations and their desire to compete and earn money. Here’s what to know:

A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series

What’s LIV Golf? The series is an upstart skilled golf circuit bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Its organizers hope to position it as a player-power-focused alternative to the PGA Tour, which has been the best level of professional golf for nearly a century.

A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series

Why is the brand new series controversial? The event has created sparks inside golf for upending the traditions and strictures of how the sport is played. It has also turn out to be a lightning rod for human rights campaigners who accuse Saudi Arabia of using sports to launder its repute.

A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series

Who’s playing it? Lots of the most important names in golf, akin to Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, have stayed away from LIV Golf. But several big names and former major champions, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio García, joined. Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who was presupposed to lead Europe’s team on the 2023 Ryder Cup, was removed as captain after announcing his move to the series.

A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series

What’s attracting the players? The LIV Golf events are the richest tournaments in golf history. The primary tournament’s total purse was $25 million, and the winner’s share was $4 million. The last-place finisher at each event was guaranteed $120,000. That’s on top of the looks fees and nine-figure signing-on payouts some players have accepted.

Pressed, Smith added: “I don’t know, mate. My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”

Rory McIlroy, one among the PGA Tour’s fiercest supporters and the person whose final-round ambitions Smith had patiently eroded at St. Andrews, spoke with Smith two days after the tournament.

“Guys which are pondering a method or one other, truthfully, I don’t care in the event that they leave or not,” McIlroy recounted last week in Atlanta, where he was for the Tour Championship that he would go on to win. “It’s not going to make a difference to me. But I’d a minimum of like people to make a choice that is totally informed and principally know: ‘That is what’s coming down the pipeline. That is what chances are you’ll be forsaking.’”

But within the weeks after the British Open and the exchange with McIlroy, Smith didn’t deny a report in The Telegraph, the London newspaper, that he intended to play for LIV in exchange for a minimum of $100 million.

Smith is just the newest major tournament winner to sign with LIV Golf, which has drawn scrutiny due to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, and the sector in Bolton is anticipated to incorporate Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka.

“LIV Golf is showing the world that our truly global league is attracting the world’s best players and can grow the sport into the longer term for the subsequent generation,” Greg Norman, the two-time British Open winner and LIV’s chief executive, said in an announcement on Tuesday. “The perfect and the brightest proceed to embrace the thrill and energy of LIV Golf and what we’re constructing: a tangible league for team golf that can connect with recent audiences all around the globe.”

Although Smith was the headliner of Tuesday’s signing class, the five other golfers added to LIV’s roster have sometimes been formidable.

Lahiri, a member of two Olympic teams, has long been amongst India’s best golfers and finished in a tie for fifth on the P.G.A. Championship in 2015. That very same 12 months, Leishman tied for second on the British Open at St. Andrews after a playoff.

Niemann turned skilled in 2018 and has already amassed greater than $14.5 million in profession earnings, partly in consequence of a wire-to-wire victory on the Genesis Invitational in February. Varner, who has been one among the few Black golfers on the PGA Tour, has 16 profession top-10 tour finishes.

Tringale played 29 tour events this past season, winning just greater than $3 million, but he has never fared higher in a serious tournament than a tie for 14th.

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