ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The question seemed inevitable and yet Cameron Smith acted miffed that he was asked during his winner’s press conference to address rumors that the newly crowned Champion Golfer of the Year is on the verge of signing a deal to join LIV Golf, the upstart golf league.
“I just won the British Open, and you’re asking about that?” Smith responded. “I think that’s pretty, not that good.”
Pressed to answer the question and either confirm or quash such talk that has been circulating in golf circles all week, Smith instead did neither.
“I don’t know, mate,” he said. “My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”
LIV Golf kept a low profile this week, but the Saudi-backed league is expected to ramp up its spending spree with more high-profile signings. Among those expected to join LIV in the coming week may include Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who earlier this year was named Europe’s Ryder Cup captain. Swedish newspaper Expressen was first to report the move, which likely would cost Stenson the Ryder Cup job and make England’s Luke Donald a leading candidate to assume the role.
Henrik Stenson is expected to join LIV Golf imminently and to be stripped of the Ryder Cup captaincy
— Jamie Weir (@jamiecweir) July 17, 2022
When asked Friday after missing the cut at the Open to share his upcoming schedule, Stenson would only say, “Undecided.”
Stenson isn’t the only European Ryder Cupper to have his name bandied about as possibly headed to LIV Golf. Several player agents have said England’s Tommy Fleetwood is ready to make the jump. Fleetwood also was non-committal on his future tournament schedule.
“To be honest, I planned the schedule which got up to about now, and then we’ll just reassess and go again,” he said. “I’m happy with the progress I’m making.”
Not sharing one’s upcoming schedule, of course, doesn’t mean one is headed to LIV, but neither player gave any assurances that they planned to continue on with the PGA Tour or DP World Tour.
The other name that received a lot of mileage as shifting his allegiance to LIV is former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama. The Mirror reported he will announce his decision after the FedEx St. Jude Championship next month.
Gaining the Japanese star would be a boon for LIV’s efforts to gain an international TV deal, especially in Japan, where Matsuyama is a top attraction. He likely would become the captain of LIV’s Japan team just as Smith would likely take over the reigns as captain of a team of Australian golfers should he make the leap.
American Jason Kokrak, who has represented Golf Saudi, is also expected to confirm he’s joining LIV and will compete in the next event, which is being held July 29-31 at Trump Bedminster in New Jersey.