British Open champion Cameron Smith of Australia is among a number of US PGA Tour players to be ruled out of the Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf Series, according to multiple reports on Sunday (AEST).
There have been several reports of world number two Smith joining LIV Golf shortly after picking up the Claret Jug last month, but he discussed the subject while playing in the PGA FedEx Cup playoffs this month.
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Golf Channel, ESPN and Sports Illustrated, citing unnamed sources, reported that several major PGA players were waiting to announce their plans to join LIV Golf until after Sunday’s PGA Tour Championship in Atlanta.
Smith will play next week’s LIV Golf event in Boston with compatriot Marc Leishman, India’s Anirban Lahiri, Chile’s Joaquin Niemann and Americans Harold Varner and Cameron Tringale, according to Sports Illustrated and ESPN; The Golf Channel named all but Lahiri.
Chilean Mito Pereira will head to LIV Golf but is uncertain for Boston, leaving his status up in the air for next month’s Presidents Cup in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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The team event, which pits the American team against non-European internationals, is not open to any player banned by the PGA – and all players who have played in any LIV golf tournament are banned indefinitely.
LIV Golf’s record $25 million purse and 54-hole format attracted many famous players to the first series, including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson.
The international line-up has already been hit by South Africa’s Luis Oosthuizen and several countrymen and Mexico’s Abraham Anser and Carlos Ortiz fleeing to LIV Golf.
“I was chosen by our players to lead the international team to the best of my ability and I will fully honor that honor,” South Africa’s international captain Trevor Immelman told Golf Channel.
“All I can control is the experience of the 12 players who want to be in the Presidents Cup.” Smith and Nieman were among the top scorers for the Internationals. Immelman is expected to replace the absent players who led the team in points, and the captain’s choice.