Looming Smith bombshell to crush the PGA Tour

Congratulatory messages have flooded in for Cameron Smith from sports stars across the world.

The Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus said Smith’s win – the first by an Australian at The Open in nearly three decades – was fun to watch, and that there’s no better place for someone to win their first major than at St Andrews.

He would know too – he won 18 majors and three Opens, including two at The Old Course.

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Even former England striker Gary Lineker said his performance was “unbelievable”, and one of the “greatest rounds in history”.

And as expected, our politicians got in on the act too.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the whole state was proud of him, while Prime Minister Anthony Albanese doubled down and said the whole county was proud.

He’s probably right.

There’s a lot to like about Smith – he’s friendly, relatable, and laid back. He’s basically everything Australians look for in a mate.

But that love would surely be tested if he were to defect to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf.

In his press conference, the 28-year-old was clearly bubbling with excitement, but that mood quickly changed when questioned on rumors of his defection. He didn’t like the question, but didn’t deny he was going, either.

“I just won the British Open and you’re asking about that. I think that’s, pretty, not that good,” he said.

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

That last line – “I’m here to win golf tournaments” – or slight variations of, is exactly the line used by many of the LIV defectors, particularly when asked to comment on the human rights issues of their Saudi funders.

Surely though, his “team” would be in constant communication with him about where he wants to play, and whose money he wants to win.

The last Australian to win The Open Championship was Greg Norman – no more needs to be said about that.

According to the Irish Golfer, Smith’s move to LIV Golf is a done deal, and he’ll be announced – along with four others – on Tuesday.

The others include fellow Aussie Marc Leishman, two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson, 2023 European Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson – who would likely be stripped of the captaincy – and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.

The publication reported that while nothing was official, chatter in The Open press box suggested the news was all but confirmed.

LIV already has some big names – Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed among others.

Some had already established themselves as villains of the PGA Tour. What would make the signing of someone like Cameron Smith that little bit more significant for the Saudis is that the likeable Aussie is not a villain.

He’s popular among fans, players and the broadcasters. He’s an all round good guy. Fleetwood, Leishman, Stenson and even Watson all fit into that category.

Signing players like these gives LIV Golf even more legitimacy, and would see it take another step towards becoming a genuine alternate tour.

The PGA Tour’s whole schtick for years has been that it’s the place to see the best golfers in the world compete on the best courses in the best tournaments.

That claim has more or less gone unchallenged for decades, but if two-time Masters champions like Bubba Watson, and the reigning Players and Open Championship winner in Smith aren’t playing in PGA Tour events, but with the Saudis, it would be another big hit for the PGA Tour.

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