The rumors are becoming reality.
British Open champion Cameron Smith’s long-rumored defection to LIV Golf is expected to happen after the conclusion of the Tour Championship, according to ESPN. Smith will reportedly be joined by Marc Leishman, Harold Varner III, Joaquin Niemann, Cameron Tringale and Anirban Lahiri, ESPN reports. A Golf Channel report confirmed the first four of those names and added Mito Pereira to the list of defectors.
It’s expected that all of those players will compete at the next LIV Golf event in Boston next weekend, per ESPN.
While the PGA Tour wraps up its season with the Tour Championship at East Lake this weekend, this represents the latest blow dealt by Greg Norman and LIV Golf, which has lured away a number of high-profile stars with massive payouts.
The PGA announced earlier this week that it would be making a series of changes to accommodate top players starting next year, including 13 elevated events with large prize money and a doubling of the Player Impact Program bonus.
Still, the PGA doesn’t have pockets deep enough to compete with the Public Investment Fund, which is essentially an extension of the Saudi Arabian state and funds LIV Golf.
Though Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have been at the forefront of defending the PGA, including spearheading the changes announced this week, the cast of stars around them continues to diminish.