Cameron Smith is already “a high-grossing bogan from Queensland” according to his coach Grant Field, having pocketed over $ 14 million in prize money this year. But the hero of the working class No. 2 will earn about 10 times that amount now that he’s become the mustache-twirling golf villain by officially joining the rival series LIV Golf.
The decision, fresh from his first major victory at the July Open, will shock traditionalists. Smith, 29, was nearing number 1 on the chart, a feat that only three Australians have achieved and has the game to rock the history books. Instead he will risk his future and his legacy, to challenge the junior players on poorer courses in golf’s version of a gap year.
Greg Norman confirmed on Tuesday what has been rumored for some time. Smith will turn his back on the PGA tour to join the rebel tour led by his Australian colleague Norman, CEO of LIV and head spruiker, and funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Related: Cameron Smith confirmed as the last star to sign for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series
The move, Smith revealed to Golf Digest, was primarily a lifestyle decision. “The most important thing for me is to enter [LIV’s] the schedule is really tempting, “said Smith.” I can spend more time at home in Australia and maybe organize an event there too. I haven’t been able to do that and getting that part of my life back was really tempting. “
LIV is a classic plus-for-minus equation. LIV translates as 54 in Roman numerals and LIV players must play 54 holes over three rounds, not the PGA’s 72 holes out of four. For Smith, it means more time chasing leather jackets in Australia than chasing green jackets in Augusta, watching the rugby league and petting cars with his teammates.
LIV’s heavily truncated eight tournament schedule also allows Smith more time with the family. Winning the Players Championship in March was the first time Smith had seen his mother Sharon and younger sister Mel in over two years. He suffered from severe homesickness early in his Tour career in 2013, but settled in Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville in 2015.
A claimed $ 143 million signing fee for LIV membership will further enhance Smith’s lifestyle away from golf. Smith is a proud blue-collar worker with all the hunger and ambition that comes with it. “[Money] it was definitely a factor in making that decision, I won’t ignore it or say it wasn’t a reason, “he said.” It was a business decision, an offer I couldn’t ignore. “
The LIV website trumpets its form of the game as “golf, but stronger”. It’s a lollipop race for players and agents. This week’s LIV Golf Invitational Boston, in which Smith will make his debut as a LIV player for the first time, has A $ 36.2 million up for grabs to be shared among just 48 pros – A $ 5.8 million to the tournament winner and even at the bottom – getter pocketing AU $ 174,000.
LIV also offers a “club” event where the 48 players on the tour split into 12 teams with names like Crusher, Fireballs, Hy Flyers to compete for an additional $ 7.2 million at each event. This could be a further impetus behind Smith’s LIV decision. He’s crazy about team sports, raised on the Queensland Origin craze by a crazy grandfather who was a champion of bulls.
Last month Smith was eagerly watching next month’s Presidents Cup team event at Quail Hollow, where he was an automatic selection for the international team. But his move to LIV now rules him out (winning Smith’s Open in July still grants him an annual invite until the age of 60) and he won’t even earn points in the world rankings as of Friday.
Smith and fellow Australian Marc Leishman are both run by golf super agent Bud Martin. Their double defection brings Norman’s zealous search for an Australian team to contest the LIV “club” shooting a couple of steps closer to reality. Of the eight Australian LIV signings, Australian PGA champion Jediah Morgan and Wade Ormsby have a foursome fight.
“LIV Golf is showing the world that our truly global championship is attracting the best players in the world and will make the game grow into the future for the next generation,” sang Norman. Smith and Leishman’s signature brings Norman’s lifelong dream back into focus. He and Rupert Murdoch proposed a World Golf Tour in 1994 just for the PGA to crush it.
Related: The LIV Golf rebels handed over the February date for the decision on the future of the DP World Tour
Now Norman has world number 2 – and some measure of revenge on the PGA – the coup will be to bring a LIV tournament to Australia, clearly something Smith craves too. Despite golf’s changing state, LIV players can still participate in the Australian PGA at Royal Queensland in November and the Australian Open at Victoria Golf Course in December.
“These two major Australian events are the stars of the upcoming summer of golf, one of the biggest in years, and there is no doubt that our fans are looking forward to our growing lineup of homegrown stars like Cam Smith. and Marc Leishman, “PGA Australia President Rodger Davis said in a statement.
Norman revealed earlier this month that LIV is looking to organize an event in Australia in 2023 and has been exploring potential venues. Royal Queensland is where Smith first practiced his amateur craft while Norman has a history with The Australian golf course in Sydney. The question for these courses, as it was for Smith, remains: is it worth the money?