Cameron Smith had golfing world at his feet - I hope he hasn't thrown it all away for LIV Golf's money

It may have felt like “good riddance” in the case of a number of players to sign up for LIV Golf over the past few months but not in this instance.

Cameron Smith celebrates on the 18th green after winning the 150th Open at St Andrews in July. Picture: Ian Rutherford.
Cameron Smith celebrates on the 18th green after winning the 150th Open at St Andrews in July. Picture: Ian Rutherford.

Not when we’re talking about the world No 2. Not when he’s just 29 years of age. Not when he’s The Players’ champion. And especially not when he’s the 150th Open champion.

In some respects, Australian Cameron Smith may have been an unpopular winner of golf’s oldest major in July as he denied Rory McIlroy at St Andrews.

At the same time, though, there was no denying that he emerged as a worthy champion on the Old Course, which he covered in 64 blows in the final circuit.

A new golfing hero was hailed by fans around the world but especially here in the sport’s cradle, yet, shortly after he’d been presented with the Claret Jug, it emerged a move to LIV Golf was on the cards.

Golf’s worst-kept secret has now been confirmed, with Smith set to make his debut on the Saudi-backed breakaway circuit in Boston later this week.

Five others, including Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, another of the game’s brightest young stars, have made the switch for the fourth of LIV Golf’s $25 million events, but it’s only really Smith’s defection that will cause hurt and pain.

And nowhere will that be felt more than by Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive, after he boldly spoke out against Greg Norman’s venture in the week of that milestone Open in Fife.

“Professional golfers are entitled to choose where they want to play and to accept the prize money that's offered to them. I have absolutely no issue with that at all,” declared Slumbers as he became the first head of golf’s main stakeholders to open up publicly on the breakaway circuit.

“But there is no such thing as a free lunch. I believe the (LIV Golf) model we've seen is not in the best long-term interests of the sport as a whole and is entirely driven by money. We believe it undermines the merit-based culture and the spirit of open competition that makes golf so special.”

Slumbers doesn’t come across as the type to bear grudges, but, as someone who cares passionately about the game, he’ll surely be unhappy about the current Open champion’s decision.

Smith, probably known in the sporting world more for his mullet before taking his game to the next level this year, is reportedly being paid $140 million to turn his back on the PGA Tour, where he’ll immediately be suspended once he tees up as a LIV Golf player.

He’s kidding people if he thinks that competing in 54-hole events will provide the platform for him to really kick on and that has to be the most disappointing aspect about this decision.

Here’s a guy who has given himself a chance to become world No 1 and win multiple majors, yet only time will tell if he’s thrown that all away for more money than he’ll ever come close to being able to spend.

It really does seem that money is now outweighing the desire in some players to compete in tournaments that matter and that, I’m afraid, simply isn’t healthy for the game.

I’ve not liked the use of the word “irrelevant” by a lot of people when providing opinions about LIV Golf players on social media and I’m certainly not going to in this instance as that would be unjust.

However, it has to be hoped that Smith doesn’t live to regret this decision as he’s not only a heck of a golfer but also comes across as a decent bloke.

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