Cam Smith, as he was deciding this summer between staying with the PGA Tour or taking a reported nine-figure deal to join LIV Golf, says he had one of his best conversations with Ian Baker-Finch, a fellow Australian and Open Championship winner and a current CBS analyst.
And what did Baker-Finch tell him?
The counsel was layered, according to a lengthy interview with both Smith and Baker-Finch in the Daily Telegraph published Sunday.
“In the very last night line of our conversation I said, ‘Look … if I was your dad, I would be telling you to take the money,” Baker-Finch told the Daily Telegraph.
“I really hoped Cam wouldn’t go because I felt he had the ability to be No. 1 in the world and create a huge name for himself like Adam Scott has done over the years, like Greg Norman did himself.
“In saying that, I totally understand it. How can you turn down $150 [million to] $200 million? I mean, I can’t even imagine it. I talked to him for a long while and more than once. I said I would love you to stay. I think you can create a really great legacy. Win more majors. Put your name on top of those world rankings.
“But I will be honest with you. If someone had offered me $150 million to sign after I won the British Open, I would have taken it.”
And at the end of August, after his play at the Tour Championship, Smith did. Following a year on the PGA Tour where he won the Players Championship and the Open Championship and moved to World No. 2, Smith played in five events on the Saudi-backed series, winning in the second.
In the interview with the Daily TelegraphSmith said his talk with Baker-Finch was notable.
“We were on the phone for 30-45 minutes,” Smith said. “He was just honest and really blunt. I felt as if I was talking to my old man again.”
Later in the Daily Telegraph interview, Baker-Finch talked of other players who have jumped from the Tour to LIV. He had one issue.
“I think players who have just gone and just been honest about the fact this is generational money and I have to take it, or they like the different aspects of it … I get that. That’s fine,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“And many of the guys are still friends. But the angst comes from guys who have come through pathways on the DP World Tour backstabbing that tour or saying how bad it is. That is the part that irks me. I just don’t think you should bag where you have come from.”
For his part, Smith told the Daily Telegraph that his friends on the PGA Tour “respect” his decision.
“I wouldn’t say it has been hard at all,” Smith told the Daily Telegraph. “Definitely some of my mates are still out on the PGA Tour, and they are still my mates. They respect my decision.
“A few of them don’t agree with it, but we still have a beer and a laugh and are really good friends. That is the most important thing to me.
“[PGA Tour member] Billy Horschel lives just down the road from me. He has been a big spokesman for the Tour [yet] he is the one who sticks out for me the most. We still have a laugh and are probably going to go fishing at the end of this week before I go home.”