World No. 2 and Open Championship winner Cameron Smith agreed to a deal in excess of $100 million to sign with the LIV Golf Series, the Telegraph reported Tuesday.
Smith, 28, would become by far the highest-ranked player in the world to join LIV, and one of the brightest stars. The Australian also won The Players Championship earlier this year and enters the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs this week second in the points standings. Smith’s plan is reportedly to finish out the PGA Tour season — where he has a real chance to win the FedEx Cup and the $18 million prize that comes with it — before he joins LIV for its next tournament in Boston in early September.
The news came hours after Cameron Percy of Australia said in an interview that Smith and another fellow Australian, Marc Leishman, already have signed deals to exit the PGA Tour.
“Unfortunate, yeah, they’re gone,” Percy told RSN Radio.
Smith had a pre-tournament press conference at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the first leg of the playoffs, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Memphis, Tenn. He declined to comment on the accuracy of the Telegraph’s report while pushing back on Percy’s own comments.
“My goal here is to win the FedEx Cup Playoffs. That’s all I’m here for. I have no comment on that,” Smith said.
“My goal is to win the FedEx Cup Playoffs. That’s all I’m here for. If there’s something I need to say regarding the PGA Tour or LIV it will come from Cameron Smith, not Cameron Percy.”
After Smith won The Open at St. Andrews last month, he received a question at his press conference about rumors that LIV was pursuing him. Smith deflected.
“I just won the British Open and you’re asking about that? I think that’s pretty not that good,” Smith said at the time. “I don’t know, mate. My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”
As for Percy, he said the human rights element of the Saudi-backed circuit weighed on him.
“The more and more you look into it, some people don’t care, some people have got a conscience and do care,” he said. “It really comes down to, you know, ‘They just executed 80 people this week, just chopped their heads off.’ They’re not the nicest people in the world.
“Do you just look past that and go, ‘Oh well, I’m rich I don’t really care’. It’s a tough one, it really is.” Percy said a conversation with Adam Scott, who is on the record saying he would consider a move to LIV Golf, helped open the eyes of his fellow countrymen to the new tour. He also said the deals for Smith and the 38-year-old Leishman, currently ranked No. 56 in the world, are lucrative.
“(Scott) said he met with these guys (LIV reps) in 2017 — they were ready (to) do all this. So, the (PGA) Tour has known for a long time that this stuff is in the works,” Percy said.
Percy, 48, finished in the top 10 at last week’s Wyndham Championship, just ahead of the start of the FedEx Playoffs this week.
–Field Level Media ()