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Cameron Smith says Rory McIlroy tried to persuade him to stay on PGA Tour instead of joining LIV Golf

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Two days after losing his 150th Open Championship to Cameron Smith, Rory McIlroy received a phone call that he clearly didn’t want. He called Smith to congratulate him on winning the Claret Jug and then told him all the reasons why he should stay on the PGA tour.

Smith apparently did not heed McIlroy’s advice, choosing instead to sign a nine-figure deal with LIV Golf and make his LIV Boston debut immediately after the Tour Championship. The two, along with PGA Tour Player of the Year Scotty Sheffler, owned most of the year in 2022. This trio has a total of 11 victories worldwide, including half of the major championships.

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However, it was exactly what happened off the track that often dominated the headlines. Smith recently spoke about what McIlroy said to him during a phone call after The Open.

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“I have always respected Rory and liked what he says on the golf course. Smith told the Sydney Morning Herald. “He said, ‘Congratulations.’ There were maybe a couple of small bumps. He was happy that I played well and it was a good tournament. Then we talked about the PGA Tour and LIV. so that I know before making a decision. I wouldn’t say he was trying to talk me out of it directly, but he definitely wanted me to stay.”

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There was a good reason. At the time, Smith was the No. 2 player in the world and the reigning Players Championship and Open Championship winner. The summary of his conversation is consistent with what McIlroy said at the Tour Championship in August:

“I wanted to congratulate him, but I also wanted the guys who think one way or another, honestly, I don’t care if they leave or not,” McIlroy said. It won’t change anything for me. But I would at least want people to make decisions that are fully informed and basically know that this is what will be in the process. It’s something you can leave behind.”

What’s coming on the PGA Tour is a set of boosted events with significantly increased wallets – 12 tournaments with an average wallet size of $20 million in 2023 – as well as the opportunity to play TGL, which is operated by Tiger. Woods and McIlroy own. TGL is essentially televised arena golf where players will have the opportunity to earn some cash from a PGA Tour related event. This was not the case before.

Smith wasn’t the LIV’s most famous player in 2022, but he was probably its best player. Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Kepka and Phil Mickelson are all hotter than the Aussie, but it could be argued that only Scheffler had a better year than Smith this year, although he certainly wasn’t richer.



Source: www.cbssports.com

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