Open champion Smith out of BMW Championship ahead of FedEx Cup finale

By Sports Desk August 15, 2022

Cameron Smith has withdrawn from this week's BMW Championship, the penultimate event of the 2021-22 PGA Tour season, amid reports he is set to defect to LIV Golf.

The Australian, who claimed his first major at The Open Championship last month at St Andrew's, has pulled out citing discomfort in his hip.

It means Smith, currently number three in the FedEx Cup rankings, will miss out on the final event before the season-concluding Tour Championship at East Lake.

"Unfortunately, Cam will be unable to compete in the BMW Championship this week in Wilmington," agent Bud Martin said. "He has been dealing with some on-and-off hip discomfort for several months and thought it best to rest this week in his pursuit of the FedExCup."

The Brisbane native struggled last week at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, where he was handed a two-stroke penalty for playing from the wrong place and, having challenged for the lead at one stage, finished tied for 13th.

Now, he will likely drop further away from the chance to dethrone Scottie Scheffler, particularly if the rumblings about a switch to the breakaway LIV Golf series prove well-founded.

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    McIlroy has been a steadfast critic of the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit, which counts the likes of Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau among its ranks. 

    The FedEx Cup champion declared his "hatred" for the breakaway circuit last month, and recently said LIV players should be excluded from next year's Ryder Cup.

    Speaking to BBC Sport on Wednesday, McIlroy said it was up to LIV's players to assume a leading role in repairing relations with those who remained loyal to the PGA.

    "I would just say the ball is in their court," McIlroy said. "If they want to come to the table and try to play nicely within the sandbox that's already created, the opportunity is there."

    Eleven LIV players initially supported an antitrust lawsuit filed against the PGA Tour, accusing it of operating as a monopoly and alleging the suspension of players joining the new circuit was improper.

    However, eight of those players have since withdrawn, with Mickelson doing so on Tuesday. 

    While McIlroy believes a resolution to golf's bitter civil war is possible, he said those legal proceedings currently make reconciliation difficult.

    "Right now with two lawsuits going on, and how heightened the rhetoric has been, I think we just need to let it cool off a little bit," McIlory added.

    "I don't know what's going to happen with this lawsuit. No one's going to want to talk to anyone when it's hanging over the game, so I don't know what happens there.

    "I've probably said a few things that are maybe too inflammatory at times, but it just comes from the heart and how much I hate what this is doing to the game.

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    However, as LIV Golf continues to lobby the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) for the ability to grant rankings points, McIlroy said the circuit's players will only have themselves to blame if they miss out on qualifying for majors.

    "The only ones that are prohibiting them from getting world rankings points are themselves," McIlroy said.

    "It's not as if [the OWGR] created this criteria out of thin air a few months ago to try to prevent LIV from getting points.

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    Talor Gooch, Ian Poulter and Hudson Swafford also want to be dismissed from the antitrust lawsuit, leaving just three players from the original 11 who filed against the Tour.

    Mickelson, one of the most prominent defectors from to LIV Golf this year, had been expected to remove his name after the breakaway series joined the suit as a plaintiff.

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    "Nothing has changed," LIV Golf spokesman Jonathan Grella said in a statement.

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    The United States have won nine consecutive editions of the Presidents Cup since a tie in 2003, with the International team's only triumph coming in 1998.

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