ATLANTA – Cameron Smith and at least five other PGA Tour players will join LIV Golf next week, multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com.
Rumors have been swirling for weeks that Smith, the winner of this year’s Open Championship and Players Championship, is poised to join the Saudi-backed league and his aloof answers to pointed questions about his move to LIV have only fueled the speculation.
“I have no comment to that,” Smith said two weeks ago at the first playoff event in Memphis. “I’m here to play the FedExCup Playoffs. That’s been my focus the last week and a half, that’s what I’m here to do.”
Smith, who further declined to comment after his third round at the Tour Championship, is scheduled to play the fourth LIV event, which is slated for next week outside of Boston.
Sources also confirmed that Mito Pereira, Marc Leishman, Harold Varner III, Cameron Tringale and Joaquin Niemann are also set to join the breakaway league next week. Niemann told GolfChannel.com Friday at East Lake that he was undecided on whether he would join LIV and SI.com reported that Pereira is not scheduled to play next week’s LIV event. Pereira posted to his Instagram account on Saturday that he was, “Happy and honored to be part of the International Presidents Cup team.”
Even if Pereira elects to play at Quail Hollow before competing in his first LIV Golf event, the most recent wave of defections will have a devastating impact on the International Presidents Cup team. Smith, Niemann and Pereira were all among the top 8 automatic qualifiers for captain Trevor Immelman’s team. Leishman is a four-time team member who would be among those considered for one of Immelman’s four wild-card selections.
“I was chosen by our players to lead the International team to the best of my abilities, and I will carry out this honor fully,” Immelman said in a statement to GolfChannel.com. “All I can control is the experience the 12 players who want to be at the Presidents Cup will have. My wife and I along with our support staff have dedicated 2 years of our lives to making this Presidents Cup an amazing week for our players, caddies and families.”
Since the International team qualifiers were finalized last week, Immelman will receive additional captain’s picks for any replacements needed, according to a Tour official.
By playing in a LIV event – not just by committing to the league – Tour members violate the circuit’s regulations regarding competing events, which has led to multiple, lengthy suspensions for players. The suspensions include participation in the Presidents Cup. In addition to next week’s LIV Golf event in Boston, there is also an event in Chicago, the week before the Presidents Cup.
Updated at 8:14 p.m. ET