Golf: Greg Norman’s LIV signs two more Australians for first $35m event

An Aussie ranked 1050 in the world could collect the biggest payday of his career after getting a call-up to play in Greg Norman’s $35m event.

Australian golf officials are confident newly minted US Open champion Minjee Lee will return home in December to headline the historic Australian Open in Melbourne where the women’s and men’s events will be played on the same course at the same time.

But the presence of six male players could be in doubt after confirmation two more – Travis Smyth and Kevin Yuan – were among the final six players added to the field for the opening event of Greg Norman’s controversial LIV Golf series in London this week.

While confirmation of three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson for the LIV headlined the final spots, the addition of Smyth and Yuan, invited on the back of recent high finishes on the Asian Tour, took the Australian contingent in the event to six.

Both are guaranteed to walk away with at least $167,000 even if they finish last at Centurion Club but would be hoping for a greater slice of the total $35m prize pool.

Norman called it a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance for many of the late call-ups who have been plugging away on minor tours.

Smyth, ranked 395 in the world, finished second at last week’s Asian Tour event in England, his best result anywhere in more than three years, while Yuan, 25, is ranked 1050 and is staring at easily the biggest collect of his journeyman career.

“Our international series qualifiers have earned an incredible opportunity to compete in LIV Golf’s new format, and I’m eager to watch all of them tee it up next week,” Norman said.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of them, and that has been a driving force behind our mission at LIV – creating player pathways and new opportunities to play the game we all love.”

Two of the other Australians in the event – Matt Jones and Jed Morgan – could yet face bans from defending their Australian Open and Australian PGA titles later this year, with both events co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour.

Golf Australia has benefited greatly from renewed relationships with both the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, and the US PGA Tour and would fall into line with any penalties dished out to players who signed up with Norman.

But while the Australian Open may not have its defending champion, officials are hopeful Lee, who won her second major at Pine Needles, and fellow major champ Hannah Green will headline the women’s field for the historic event at Victoria Golf Club.

World No. 4 Cameron Smith is the main target for the men’s field, with officials looking to form a strong contingent of homegrown talent, including the likes of Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Lucas Herbert and Lee’s brother, PGA player Min Woo, for the first Australian Open since 2019.

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