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Gary Player has hit out at recently-crowned Open champion Cameron Smith after he was unveiled as the latest signing of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, the South African said: "I was absolutely shocked to hear Cameron Smith [had joined LIV Golf]. Here's a young man that I really thought was going to be a superstar. Now, what sort of future does he have? Will he be allowed to play in Majors in the future? Will he be able to realise this great dream of being a champion? I don't know."
The Australian, who is also the reigning Players champion, reportedly signed a deal worth in excess of $100m and will make his debut at the LIV Golf Boston event at the International Golf Club later this week.
The financial allure of the Series continues to attract PGA Tour firepower, with Smith unveiled alongside five other signings - Joaquin Niemann, Harold Varner III, Cameron Tringale, Marc Leishman and Anirban Lahiri, who finished runner-up to Smith at TPC Sawgrass.
Player however, wouldn't swap his legacy over the guaranteed riches: "I've played golf all my life and I wouldn't take a billion dollars for my nine Majors on both Tours," he said. "The only man to win the Grand Slam on both Tours and 165 tournaments. I worked hard. I had a desire. I travelled the world, it was an education. I met wonderful people. How can you ever be a champion playing 54 holes with no cut?"
The South African however took a slightly difference stance when it came to denounced Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson and others that he believed aren't capable of winning on the PGA Tour again.
"I don't blame Stenson for going. He had no money, so he had to go. This superstar [Cam Smith], I think his advisors have given him the wrong advice. I don't blame players for going on the LIV Tour. Most of the players can't win on the regular Tour anymore. The PGA Tour will always be the major Tour."
Cameron Smith justified his move to the Greg Norman-fronted venture shortly after his signing was announced. Speaking to Golf Digest, the 29-year-old said: "[Money] was definitely a factor in making that 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."
Like so many before him, Smith added that the schedule was more appealing. The Australian also has the added benefit of potentially returning to his homeland with LIV Golf reportedly set to stage events Down Under.
Smith's schedule however will now no longer include the Presidents Cup, which is set to take place at Quail Hollow next month. The Australian is one of the biggest names no longer eligible to take part.
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.
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