‘You can’t knock it back’: Latest Australian to join Norman’s Saudi tour to bank career payday

The latest Australian golfer to join Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed breakaway league said he couldn’t turn down a chance to join the mega-money tour and hopes to learn from the former world No. 1.

Travis Smyth secured one of the last spots for LIV Golf’s inaugural $35 million event at Centurion Club just outside London after a career payday when second in an Asian Tour event last week.

Norman had offered the top two finishers in the tournament an invite to the controversial first event of his new project, which has triggered a golfing civil war.

Two-time major winner Dustin Johnson has resigned from the US PGA Tour to join the new league, reportedly receiving $210 million just for joining.

Phil Mickelson, the oldest men’s major winner, will at Centurion following a four-month hiatus after his explosive comments in which he called the Saudi regime scary mother——- came to light.

Smyth has primarily plied his trade on the Asian Tour and in Australia and has just one career win, a wire-to-wire Northern Territory PGA success in 2017.

While two-time Australian Open winner Matt Jones said his choice to join the LIV Golf tour was , Smyth will bank the second-biggest cheque of his career ($170,000) – even if he finishes last in the 48-man field.

I’m going to earn a lot more than that hopefully, Smyth told the Herald and The Age from Centurion. I feel like I deserve it. I’ve worked my butt off and now I’m here. I don’t know if it’s life changing, and you would want to hope it doesn’t change you as a person, but it’s definitely going to help financially.

I might not have made a ton of money, but I’ve plugged along and done OK – and hoped it would take care of itself eventually.

Smyth will join fellow Australians Jones (world No. 69), Jed Morgan (235), Blake Windred (259), Wade Ormsby (265) and Kevin Yuan (1404) in the field at Centurion, with all six to play a 54-hole tournament with a shotgun start on Thursday night (AEST).

Jones argued it would be a bad look for the US PGA Tour to ban or fine members who joined Norman’s league, but Australian young guns such as Smyth and Morgan don’t have a current affiliation with either the US or Europe’s DP World Tour.

The US Golf Association will allow players who compete in the first LIV event to partake in the US Open, the third major of the year, at The Country Club near Boston later this month.

Regarding players who may choose to play in London this week, we simply asked ourselves this question — should a player who had earned his way into the 2022 US Open, via our published field criteria, be pulled out of the field as a result of his decision to play in another event? And we ultimately decided that they should not, the USGA said in a statement.

Smyth, 27, said he wanted to establish himself in the US, and was aware of the furore surrounding the LIV Golf venture.

PGA Tour players are risking their career on that tour to play here, and if it all works out and this thing is part of the future, it’s almost a no-brainer, he said.

It’s tiring being a golf pro. Living in Australia, flying so far everywhere all the time, it’s the thing I hate the most. You can’t knock an opportunity like this back. In some respects, trying to win a tournament [like last week] is less stressful than trying to make the cut for someone in my position. I felt a result like that was a long time coming.

I’ll try to be a sponge and learn a lot from [Norman]. I was definitely too young and I only started golf when I was 12, which was when Tiger [Woods] was peaking. As I’ve gotten older and being a historian of the game, I’ve now really come to respect him.

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