Aussie golf superstar Cameron Smith is set to officially be unveiled alongside a host of other big names by Greg Norman’s LIV Golf – with the announcement due just after he finishes chasing a potential $26million payday from the PGA Tour.
The Tour’s final tournament for the season – the PGA Tour Championship – begins on Thursday, with the LIV defection announcement reportedly to follow immediately on August 29, according to the Telegraph.
When news broke of Smith’s reported $140million move to the Saudi-backed competition after his remarkable win at this year’s British Open, the golfing world was shocked.
Cameron Smith is reportedly officially announcing his defection to LIV Golf on August 29, after the final event of the PGA season
Cameron Smith celebrates with the famous Claret Jug after winning the time-honoured British Open in July
The 29-year-old Queenslander is currently ranked number two in the world and is in the form of his life after wins at The Open and Players tournaments in addition to his third place finish at the Masters in April.
Smith is not the only high-profile defector to the league championed by Norman: fellow Aussie stars Marc Leishman and Matt Jones are also set to join their compatriot, in what is reportedly a ‘done deal’.
LIV’s team-based play will see the Aussies tee off in a team of seven at the LIV Boston event from September 2-4, which features $25million in prizemoney.
Aussie Matt Jones, who is ranked 82nd in the world, is also reportedly announcing his move from the PGA to LIV
Jones’ compatriot, the 56th-ranked Marc Leishman, is also set to be announced as member of Smith’s LIV team
The real big fish, alongside Smith, is Hideki Matsuyama – not only for his ability but the fact that he can bring the ‘golfing-crazed’ nation of Japan with him to LIV, which is still establishing itself in both viewership and sponsorship.
‘Hideki is the huge domino to fall. Hearing an Aussie team is essentially a done deal. But Hideki would bring a whole, massive, golf-crazed nation under the LIV fold,’ high-profile golfing pundit Dan Rapaport wrote on Twitter.
‘They’d get a TV deal, sponsorships, team owner in Japan no problem. Which is why they’re offering him the BAG.’
Japanese superstar Hideki Matsuyama is reportedly ‘being offered the bag’ from LIV Golf to defect from the PGA Tour
The PGA Tour isn’t waving the white flag, though.
Golfing legends and high-profile opponents to the Saudi-back tournament – Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy – have teamed up to spearhead a new PGA Tour ‘stadium’ competition, according to reports.
The duo have taken it upon themselves to lead to the fight against LIV, which many golf fans and experts are referring to as ‘sports washing’ by the Saudi Arabia government.
The plan for the new competition was shared with their fellow professionals during the crunch players-only meeting held in Wilmington, Delaware on August 16, which was believed to be organised in response to the ongoing LIV Golf threat.
Tiger Woods has spearheaded the response to LIV Golf
Woods and McIlroy have a proposed a series of one-day events that will be staged in front of a live audience, be technology-forward and be held in a non-green grass, stadium environment, according to Golfweek.
McIlroy, who has been outspoken against LIV Golf from the outset, said what Woods was doing for the PGA Tour was heroic.
‘(Tiger) is the hero that we’ve all looked up to. His voice carries further than anyone else’s in the game of golf. His role is navigating us to a place where we all (PGA Tour) think we should be,’ he said in a recent press conference.
Superstar Rory McIlroy has been a vocal critic of Greg Norman’s LIV Golf league
For now, all eyes in the golfing world will be on the PGA Tour Championship at the East Lake course in Atlanta.
The final tournament of the 2021-22 season is a different format to other regular championships.
The higher a player’s FedEx Cup ranking (rankings for the entire 2021-22 season), the more strokes they will start ahead.
Smith, on four under, is six shots behind the top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, and the race for the $26million prize is wide open.