Former Open Champion Urges Cam Smith To Reject LIV Golf

Ian Baker-Finch has urged his fellow countryman not to join the LIV Golf Series

Ian Baker-Finch at 150th Open Championship at St Andrews
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Former Open champion and fellow Aussie Ian Baker-Finch has urged Cameron Smith to reject the advances of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series and create a "legacy" on the PGA Tour. 

Smith, the first Australian to win the Open Championship since Greg Norman in 1993, is the latest name to be linked to the Norman-fronted Series and it was perhaps no surprise that he was asked to clarify his position during his winning press conference at St Andrews.

"I just won the British Open and you're asking about that? I think that's pretty... Not that good," a clearly annoyed Smith replied when asked if he was tempted by the Saudi riches. He then added: "My team around me worries about all that stuff. I'm here to win golf tournaments."

As speculation continues to surround the newly crowned Open champion, his fellow countryman believes he should continue on his current path: "I know that they are talking to him and many others," Baker-Finch told SEN radio. "I hope he doesn’t [join LIV Golf] because I think he can leave a great legacy by winning Major championships and becoming the best player in the world. 

“I don’t think he needs the money. I don’t think it is going to be something that he should do. He will be a $100 million guy or more now. Does he want to win more Majors or does he want the money? I am hoping he stays and leaves a great legacy like a Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy - which he could do. I think Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy and a lot of those guys that still compete and play well in Majors, and want to leave a legacy, they’re the guys I would be following."

The 61-year-old added that the LIV Golf Series has a different allure depending on the stage of a players career: "I think the young guys are missing out," he said, referring to the likes of Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka who remain at the peak of their professional career. 

“The guys who go join LIV are going to miss out on the grind, what it takes to be a champion, to play in the great tournaments against the great players. It's hard work. You’re not going to become a better player by going and playing 54 hole exhibition matches and getting paid $150,000 to finish last.

"I understand the over 40s - the guys who can’t beat the young guys any more. I get it, I totally understand it. Go play, have a good time, make good money for your family."

Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez were among a group to join the LIV Golf Series and criticise the PGA Tour's operations as a means to justify their decision; something to the dismay of Baker-Finch. 

"I understand it all. I just hate the way they are saying that the other Tours haven’t done well by them or aren’t doing a good job," he said. "I I just wish it wasn’t so combative, I wish it wasn’t ruining the ecosystem as we know it. Smithy has won $8 million already ($9,847,004 so far this season). I think that is pretty good.

"The guy that leads the Tour over there this year will win $30 million. How can you complain about that? If you want to go play LIV, go play on that Tour. Say goodbye. But don’t ruin the system or speak ill of the system that has made so many millionaires.”

James Hibbitt

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.