In his first public comments since his controversial move to LIV Golf, Cameron Smith outlined the main reasons he left behind the PGA Tour – and why it included more than a nine-figure payday.
Speaking to reporters at The International outside Boston, the site of LIV’s fourth event, Smith signed with the rival league as he believes LIV is the “future of golf” and acknowledged that the tight schedule would allow him to spend more time each year back home in Australia.
“I’m really excited to be here,” he said at his introductory press conference alongside Mark Leishman, a day after Smith’s long-rumored decision was officially announced. “I think this is the future of golf. I love how it is here. It’s more relaxing on the range, and the music playing. I love that stuff. I just can’t wait to be a part of this.”
Smith’s addition is arguably LIV’s most significant signing to date, joining the Rookie Tour as the defending champion for two of the year’s top five events, The Open and The Players. Smith said he has not resigned from his tour membership, although he would be suspended by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan when Smith postponed him Friday for the first round of the 54-hole event. The same is true for the rest of the defectors (Leishman, Joaquin Neiman, Harold Varner III, Cameron Triangle and Anirban Lahiri) who made their LIV debut this week.
Smith said he’s been in touch with LIV over the past few months, before taking home his first major title at St Andrews. A few of the Tour players, including Rory McIlroy, reached out to him to talk about his decision, and he also had a session with Monahan. However, Smith decided to move on.
“For me, it was the right decision,” he said. “I think this is the future of golf. I think it’s been the same for a very, very long time, and it needs to be flipped a little bit.”
Also in Smith’s decision was the ability to live in Australia for a few months each year. His family stayed home even after Smith moved to the United States in 2015 to pursue his dreams of touring. LIV is expected to announce an event in Australia, and an intense league schedule (the season should end in the fall) will allow it more time at home.
“This is going to be a part of my life and I can’t wait to go back,” he said.
Unlike many players who pulled out with the LIV, Smith was exempted from the major tournaments for at least five years after winning The Open. A few weeks ago Smith had the opportunity to become the #1 ranked player in the world, but his world rankings will soon be affected with LIV events that currently don’t offer points. LIV’s application to the OWGR Board is under review.
“Hopefully these world points will be ranked before an exemption ends,” Smith said. “I think for the golf lovers of the major tournaments, it can be a bit unfair to them. I think the disciplines are about having the best players on the best fields on the best golf courses. Hopefully we can solve that.”
Smith also expressed his hope to be part of the International Presidents Cup squad next month, although the suspended players are currently ineligible to compete in Quail Hollow. The international team has been decimated by defections, with Smith, Neiman, Abraham Anser, Louis Oosthuizen and Carlos Ortiz all likely to play.
“I spoke to Trevor, as well as Mark — we’re still ready to compete in that. I hope we can,” Smith said. “Trevor has become a really good friend of mine over the past two years, being a member of the broadcast team there. But I hope we can get to Charlotte and represent Trevor and the worlds.”
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