The PGA Tour has been losing start players to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf for months, and it looks like there’s a new crop of defectors as six top-100 golfers have announced plans to leave the Tour and join LIV including Australian Cameron Smith, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the world.
According to ESPN, Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Harold Varner III, Cameron Tringale, Marc Leishman, and Anirban Lahiri are all leaving the PGA Tour and will join LIV Golf, playing in the Saudi-backed league’s fourth event, which starts Friday at The International outside Boston. All six golfers are ranked as top-100 players in the Official World Golf Ranking.
While the announcement is big news in the golf world, it isn’t exactly a shock to the golf world. Smith, who won the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews in July, has been rumored to be joining LIV for several weeks, even after initially denying the move. The other five golfers were the subject of other rumors as all six golfers’ names were included in a LIV Golf coupon code for the upcoming event, fueling speculation.
While these six golfers are making the move to LIV Golf, the PGA Tour did get a sizable win on Monday when 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and 2022 Open Championship runner-up Cameron Young announced that they will remain on the Tour.