The 25-year-old Australian PGA Championship winner has undoubtedly the star of the DP World Tour’s Australian leg.
LIV Golf has struck its most significant blow yet to the PGA tour by announcing the signature of world number two and defending British Open champion Cameron Smith in a reported $140-million signing deal.
Smith denied that the move was purely about the money but also stated that it was a major factor in his decision, “I won’t ignore that or say that wasn’t a reason, it was obviously a business decision for one and an offer I couldn’t ignore”.
The growing threat of the LIV golf tour to the established order of the PGA tour will only get louder with the signing of Smith as the chief executive of the Saudi backed tour Greg Norman continues his determined mission to transform the game of golf.
With the signing of Smith, Norman and the LIV tour now have 12 of the past 25 major winners on their roster as well as their first player that sits inside the world’s top ten.
The decision by Smith has predictably divided the golf and sporting world with much of the criticism centring around the effect it will have on his golfing legacy as well as his push to be the number 1 golfer in the world, which has only ever been achieved by three other Australian golfers.
Smith has chosen business over real competition which does leave a sour taste in the mouth especially with Smith coming off his first major win at the British Open.
Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record has been well publicised as the term sport washing continues to become part of the mainstream vernacular. Smith’s defection to the LIV golf tour has once again raised the question of whether as a society we hold our athletes to a standard which is unrealistic.
Why should individuals such as Smith turn down the riches of the LIV tour due to a moral and social stance when Saudi Arabia remains an important trading partner for Australia wherein their human rights record is seemingly ignored?
In fact, China was found to have had the most executions last year according to Amnesty International followed by Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
This finding though has not stopped China still being Australia’s largest trading partner this despite the rising tensions within the pacific.
Former Australian Cricket captain and South African rebel tourist Kim Hughes has been one of Smith’s fiercest supporters, pointing out the contradiction when it comes to Smith’s decision and the continued trading conditions of Australia with the aforementioned countries.
“Why can’t an athlete, male or female, ply their trade as well? If you’re gonna have any embargo it has to be across the board, not just on a group of people.”
The origin of the money being paid to the LIV golfers has again highlighted the relationship between sport and politics wherein the question continues to be asked where the moral and ethical line sits for sport when it comes to money.
Individual athletes I do believe have a moral and ethical responsibility when it comes to the organisations and in this case tours they support due to the societal influence of their privileged position.
How much is enough when we look at the eye watering amounts which are being handed out to the players on the LIV golf tour and should there be more of a moral compass when it comes to sport and competition.
Possibly the saddest part of Smith leaving for the LIV tour is that golf fans will now be robbed of watching one of the brightest young talents on the PGA tour including not being part of the Presidents cup, which only a week ago he stated he wanted to play in.
The issue of sport and the moral high ground it reflects will be a discussion that continues to rumble on and will only intensify especially with the controversial Football World Cup in Qatar set to kick off in few months.
Sport and athletes sadly reflect a wider society wherein greed much of the time smothers any ethical or moral consideration, Smith has just acted upon this societal norm regardless of the impact it may have on his golfing legacy.