ATLANTA — As Billy Horschel approached the 18th green in Sunday’s final round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club, he couldn’t help but think it would be the last time he played against his good friend Cameron Smith. The PGA Tour.
Horschel and Smith both live in Ponte Vedra, Florida. They play golf together and go fishing off the beach in their spare time.
“If he goes, he’s going to be the biggest loss in my mind because you look at his age and what he’s accomplished,” Horschel said. “Look at the guy. He’s a great kid and he represents himself well and he does it right. It’s a big loss if he goes because I’m biased. He’s one of my best friends.”
Smith, who won his 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews in July, is leaving the PGA Tour for LIV Golf, the new circuit announced Tuesday. Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, the world’s 19th-ranked player, is joined by Harold Varner III (No. 46), Cameron Tringale (No. 55), Australia’s Marc Leishman (No. 62) and India’s Anirban Lahiri (No. 92). LIV Golf, funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund
LIV Golf said the six players will compete in the international tournament outside Boston in its fourth event starting Friday.
“LIV Golf is showing the world that our truly international league is attracting the world’s best players and growing the game for the next generation,” LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman said in a statement. Realistic League connects with new audiences around the world. We can’t wait to get out this week. Globally and provide fans with another memorable event.
Smith, 29, is clearly the biggest loss to the PGA Tour. The Australian is in the prime of his career, winning the Players Championship in March and winning his first major championship at the 150th Open Championship. Smith is a six-time winner on the PGA Tour and a popular player among fans and other competitors.
“He’s a good mate,” Australian Adam Scott said. “I’ll be playing a lot of practice rounds with Cam. I’ll miss that. He’s a good player to beat though.”
Smith and Niemann, wire-to-wire winners at Riviera’s Genesis Invitational in February, were automatic qualifiers for the international team that will compete in the Presidents Cup on Sept. 20 at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina. 25.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has suspended players from competing in the LIV Golf Tournament without the release of controversial incidents. Because the Presidents Cup is sanctioned by the PGA Tour, Smith and Nieman will not be eligible to play. It’s a defeat for the international team, which already has a huge distaste for the Americans.
International team captain Trevor Immelman is scheduled to announce his captaincy selection on September 6. Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im, Tom Kim, Corey Conners, Mito Pereira and Scott qualified for the team. Immelman adds six more players to the 12-man roster.
“All I can say is Trevor is ready for anything,” Scott said. “I really feel for him. He’s been in a tough spot, he’s made a plan and whatever he has to go with, he’s going to go with it. We’re the underdogs and that’s a fact. A stacked American team, even with what they can.” [of their] Not at the 11th hour, missing people are also missing.
Sources previously told ESPN that Pereira, who had a 72nd-hole lead at the PGA Championship at South Hills and was tied for third, is headed to LIV Golf in the future.
Team USA captain Davis Love III adds six captain picks on Sept. 7. Patrick Cantlay, Sam Burns, Justin Thomas, Scotty Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau have already qualified.