LIV Golf has officially snared its best player yet. Reigning Open Championship winner Cam Smith will join five others in making their LIV debut at this weekend's event in Boston.
Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Harold Varner III, Cameron Tringale, Marc Leishman and Anirban Lahiri will be joining up with LIV, starting this weekend, LIV Golf announced in a press release. Tringale announced he would be joining LIV this past weekend, while the others waited until the conclusion of the 2021-22 PGA Tour season to make their move to LIV.
The PGA Tour and LIV have been engaged in a months-long battle of words, and court filings, and numerous big-name players have jumped from the Tour to LIV, drawn by its promises of more freedom and larger paychecks. The Tour has attempted to combat the growth of the Saudi-backed LIV league by increasing purses and creating a two-tier format to reward elite players who stay with the Tour.
"The opportunity to join LIV Golf is simply too good of a financial breakthrough for me to pass by," Varner said in a statement. "I know what it means to grow up without much. [The LIV money will] also help fund many of the programs I'm building with my Foundation. I'll continue to forge pathways for kids interested in golf."
One big name who didn't join the LIV tour: Hideki Matsuyama. The 2021 Masters champion had been rumored to make the jump to LIV, but has stuck with the Tour. That's a significant coup for the PGA Tour; outside of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, Matsuyama is one of the world's most popular players, with a huge fanbase in his native Japan. Given that LIV is working to establish a significant worldwide presence, the absence of Matsuyama is notable and presents a challenge. Even so, LIV's massive reach — 12 of the past 26 major winners now play for LIV — means that the Tour is in for an existential fight in the years to come.
Contact Jay Busbee at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.