Cam Smith, Henrik Stenson, Hideki Matsuyama Among Latest Wave Of Rumored LIV Golf Defectors

The 150th Open Championship was more than a celebration; it was an oasis. For one week, the LIV Golf noise was drowned out by an overflow of good vibes in the game’s hometown. But a few minutes into the Champion Golfer of the Year’s postround press conference came the record-scratch moment. 

A reporter asked Cameron Smith to address rumors of an impending defection for the controversial startup circuit, and his response was, well, nowhere near as firm as the greens he’d just obliterated.

“I just won the British Open, and you’re asking about that?” Smith said. “I think that’s pretty, not that good.”

Pressed further, Smith made it sound as if he doesn’t have any autonomy over his schedule. 

“I don’t know, mate,” he said. “My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”

If you’re troubled by this exchange, buckle up, mate. The LIV Golf rumor mill is churning once again and there are no more major championships left to stifle it.

In the coming weeks, more major champions are expected to be inked to massive, multi-year deals. The European Ryder Cup is likely in need of a new captain. And, indeed, Smith — whose slaying of Rory  McIlroy at the Old Course with a Sunday 64 was one of the nerviest major championship performances in recent memory — could soon be swilling Fosters out of the Claret Jug with his fellow Aussie Greg Norman.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Greg Norman (@shark_gregnorman)

For all his faults as a frontman, the Shark is succeeding in his quest to shake up the professional golf ranks. Here’s a roundup of all the latest rumors swirling in the aftermath of the Open: 

  • European Ryder Cup captain and 2016 Open Championship winner Henrik Stenson could be announced as a LIV signee as early as this week, according to multiple reports. And he would indeed forfeit his Ryder Cup captaincy as a result. The 46-year-old Swede switching allegiances at this stage in the conflict would be particularly galling given all the fanfare around his appointment to the captain’s seat. “It would be a monumental blow to the DP World Tour,” said Sky Sports golf reporter Jamie Weir on Monday.

  • Former Masters champ Hideki Matsuyama is expected to announce his LIV membership sometime next month, most likely after the FedEx Cup playoffs get underway next month, per a report from The Mirror. The Japanese star will reportedly command a contract worth as much as $300 million.
  • Mere hours after he hoisted the Claret Jug, Smith was linked to LIV along with fellow Aussie Marc Leishman, according to a report from IrishGolfer.ie. With those two blokes in the fold, Norman would be well positioned to lure Adam Scott and assemble an All-Australian squad for the exhibition series, per the Telegraph (UK).
  • An injury hiatus took the heat off Bubba Watson for a while, but the two-time Masters champ has resurfaced in LIV rumors once again. According to the Daily Mail and several other outlets, the 43-year-old is engaged in talks with the rebel circuit. 

  • Tommy Fleetwood fired a 6-under 66 on Sunday to finish in a tie for fourth at the Open and continued to turn up as a potential turncoat in several reports. However, Weir tweeted Monday that he’d spoken directly to the 31-year-old Englishman and characterized the noise around him as “100% categorically not true.”