LIV signing Smith has majors in the bank

·4-min read

Cameron Smith's British Open victory appears perfectly timed following his decision to join LIV Golf as it means the Australian is exempt for all four majors for the next five years.

World No.2 Smith is set to be the poster boy of the new Greg Norman-led LIV series after becoming the first current top-10 player to sign with the breakaway tour.

Smith said he couldn't ignore the massive money on offer - reportedly a $A145 million sign-on fee from the Saudi-backed organisation - while the prospect of playing a shortened schedule and the chance to spend more time living and competing in Australia were also lures.

Players jumping to LIV Golf risk being cut out of the four majors - the measure of golfing greatness - when their world rankings points drop off.

LIV is seeking to have Official World Golf Ranking sanction its small field, no-cut tournaments, but its chances of success remain unclear.

But Smith, who is just reaching his peak, won't have that problem unless the major championships change their qualifying rules.

He already had a three-year exemption for all four majors from his Players Championship triumph in March and pushed that out to five years when victorious at St Andrews in July.

Indeed lifting the Claret Jug guaranteed Smith entry to all future British Opens until the age of 60.

Smith has joined a LIV stable that includes fellow major winners Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Charl Schwarzel, some of whom are considered past their best years.

Along with Smith, Victorian Marc Leishman was announced on Tuesday, bringing the tally of Australians on LIV Golf to eight, with Matt Jones the next biggest name of the octet.

Norman revealed earlier this month the circuit was looking to hold an event in Australia in 2023 and has been scouting potential venues.

"The biggest thing for me joining is (LIV's) schedule is really appealing," Smith told Golf Digest.

"I'll be able to spend more time at home in Australia and maybe have an event down there, as well. I haven't been able to do that, and to get that part of my life back was really appealing."

However, he frankly admitted the financial rewards were hard to knock back.

"(That) was definitely a factor in making that decision. I won't ignore that or say that wasn't a reason," Smith said.

"It was obviously a business decision for one and an offer I couldn't ignore."

At world No.19, Chile's Joaquin Niemann will give LIV a second top-20 ranked golfer while the other three players confirmed on Tuesday were India's highest-ranked player Anirban Lahiri (92), and Americans Harold Varner III (46) and Cameron Tringale (55).

Both Smith and fellow six-time PGA Tour winner Leishman are still eligible for the Australian PGA at Royal Queensland in November followed by the Australian Open at the Victoria GC and PGA of Australia chair Rodger Davis made it clear they were welcome.

"These two major Australian events headline the upcoming summer of golf, one of the biggest for years, and there's no doubt our fans are looking forward to our growing line-up of homegrown stars like Cam Smith and Marc Leishman," Davis said in a statement on Wednesday.

The local body said it would continue to navigate through the changes to world golf, which it described as in "a state of flux".

It said it maintained strong alliances with both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, which co-sanctions the upcoming Australian tournaments.

However, Smith's move is a blow for next month's Presidents Cup as he would have spearheaded the International team which is desperate for some success against the US.

The Presidents Cup is run by the PGA Tour, meaning Smith, Niemann and possible wildcard choice Leishman won't be allowed to play after they tee up in LIV's fourth tournament, getting underway at The International course in Boston on Friday.

The $A36m Boston event features a 48-man field playing 54 holes. Other Australians in the field besides Smith, Leishman and Jones are current Australian PGA champion Jed Morgan and Wade Ormsby.