No, Cam Smith’s deal with LIV Golf wasn’t solid when he won the Open Championship back in July.
The world No. 3 seed sheds little light on his decision to Sydney Morning Herald He prepares to return to his native Australia for the first time in three years this week at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship.
“I was definitely leaning in one direction, but it wasn’t signed on paper,” Smith told the Sydney Morning Herald. “There was still a lot to do, a lot to think about.”
After his victory at St Andrews, Smith has now infamously rebuked a reporter who asked about joining the upstart, Saudi-backed PGA Tour competitor’s league.
“I just won the British Open, and you’re asking about that? I guess it’s not that good,” Smith said at the winner’s press conference.
Smith said the decision was not one he took lightly, and he knew there would be a backlash if and when he decided to make the decision.
“I felt like I hadn’t slept for a few months,” he said. “I was constantly thinking, ‘What are other people going to think?'” That was a really big factor for me. I feel like I do most things by book and being away…was really hard for me.”
Smith eventually left the PGA Tour at the conclusion of the FedEx Cup Qualifiers in August for a $140 million signing bonus with LIV Golf, along with fellow Australian Marc Leishman and four other professionals. He is one of the pros who made the leap to publicly point to secured money as one of the reasons for the defection.
All players who left for LIV Golf were suspended from playing on the PGA Tour.
As Smith told Morning Herald He’s spoken to several people close to him about his decision, and even got a call from Rory McIlroy, just days after the open when Smith shot a nine 30 to come from behind to keep McIlroy’s home streak dry.
“I always respected Rory and loved what he said on the golf course,” said Smith. He said: Congratulations. There might have been a few small dings in there. He was happy because I played well and it was a good tournament. Then we talked about the PGA Tour and LIV. There were a bunch of things he wanted me to know before I made up my mind. I wouldn’t say he tried to get me straight out of it, but he definitely wanted me to stay.”
He also confided in fellow Australian Ian Baker-Finch, who gave details of some of their conversations in a joint interview with Smith to the BBC The Daily Telegraph earlier this month.
“In the last line of our conversation, I said, ‘Look…if I were your father, I’d ask you to take the money,'” Baker Finch told The Daily Telegraph. “I was really hoping Cam wouldn’t go because I felt he had the potential to be No. 1 in world and make a huge name for himself like Adam Scott has done over the years like Greg Norman himself has.”
As Smith told Morning Herald He spoke to both Norman, CEO of LIV Golf, and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. He wanted to know what each tour had planned to help develop the game in his home country.
Norman promised that Smith Leaf would head downhill. That promise came true last week when LIV announced that it will be hosting an event at The Grange Club next spring.
Monahan said the PGA Tour was looking at hosting a Korn Ferry Tour event in Australia.
“For me, the PGA Tour is such an amazing place,” said Smith. “It’s a great Tour doing really good things. But when you look back, Adam [Scott] He’s been one of the best golfers in the world for 20 years and I think it’s really strange for them [PGA Tour] Because there is no event [in Australia] Just because of him,” says Smith. “Then you have Jason [Day]Mark [Leishman]There is a group of men who could have done a lot for them. The Australian crowd is very much about it…but I don’t think it’s profitable for them and that’s kind of the reason for it all.”