Open champion Cameron Smith has become the highest-ranked player to join the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series.
The 29-year-old world number two has been confirmed on the court for the upcoming LIV tournament in Boston.
Black-smith refused to be fired over his future after winning the Open – his first major – at St Andrews in July.
The Australian will be joined in the event, from September 2-4, by rising star Joaquin Niemann, the 23-year-old world number 19 from Chile.
Smith and Niemann are among six new faces competing in Massachusetts’ 48-person field in what is the fourth LIV event in its inaugural series.
They include Australian Marc Leishman, 38, who was runner-up at the 2015 Open at St Andrews as well as Americans Harold Varner III, 32, and Cameron Tringale, 35, as well as India’s top pro Anirban Lahiri, 35 years.
Players participating in the LIV Series are currently not permitted to participate in PGA Tour events, although the DP World Tour has suspensions temporarily lifted on LIV Golf players.
Smith joined the LIV series following the culmination of the FedEx Cup, which marks the end of the PGA Tour season.
He climbed the world rankings after consistent results on the PGA Tour and especially at the majors. He has won six PGA Tour titles, including this year’s players championship, and also finished tied for second at the 2020 Masters and tied for fourth at the 2015 US Open.
Niemann, who spent nearly a year as the world’s top amateur, won his first PGA Tour title in February when he took a wire-to-wire win at Genesis International in California.
Although Smith is the highest-ranked player to sign up for the LIV Golf Series, he’s not the only big winner.
Americans Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed have all signed up for the Saudi tour, led by two-time big winner Greg Norman.
The latest departures will increase the tension in the game and comes a week after the The PGA Tour held a summit of its best players, headlined by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, to discuss the threat posed by the LIV series.
McIlroy voiced his support for the PGA Tour, saying it would be “difficult to digest” playing alongside LIV Golf players at the BMW PGA Championship – the flagship event of the DP World Tour – taking place in Wentworth from September 8-11.
European Ryder Cup players Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter – who have all signed up with LIV Golf – are set to play in the BMW PGA Championship.
McIlroy said: “I hate it. I really hate it. It’s going to be tough for me to go to Wentworth in a couple of weeks and see 18 there. It just doesn’t sit well with me.
“So yeah, I’m convinced. I believe what I’m saying is the right thing and I think when you think what you’re saying is the right thing, you’re happy to crane your neck on the line.”