Sports | August 24, 2022 11:27 am

Is Hideki Matsuyama the “Huge Domino to Fall” in LIV Golf vs. PGA Tour?

LIV Golf is expected to announce seven new members after the conclusion of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Championship this weekend

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan prepares to play a shot at the BMW Championship in Delaware.
Hideki Matsuyama defecting to LIV Golf would be a huge blow to the PGA Tour.
Rob Carr/Getty

The LIV Golf Series is fully expected to announce seven new members on August 29 after the conclusion of the PGA Tour’s season-ending FedEx Cup Championship this weekend in Atlanta, and it is anticipated that all of the defectors will debut for their new circuit in Boston on September 2.

Among the new signees will be “one long-rumored superstar,” reports the Fire Pit Collective’s Alan Shipnuck. That star player is fully believed to be world No. 2 Cameron Smith, an Australian countryman of LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman. The identities of the remaining six players remain unclear, but we have a few clues.

“This is not a collection of old-timers playing out the string or unknowns plucked from second-tier international tours — all seven players are PGA Tour members who competed in [the] FedEx St. Jude Championship,” Shipnuck writes. “All seven are expected to tee it up at the LIV event in Boston that begins on Sept. 2, triggering their ban from the PGA Tour. This will deeply impact another of the Tour’s marquee events, the Presidents Cup, which will begin three weeks later minus a heckuva lot of star power.”

There are conflicting reports, but part of that missing star power may be due to the absence of Hideki Matsuyama, who is rumored to be among the players who will defect to LIV Golf following the FedEx Cup Championship.

Currently ranked 16th in the world, the former No. 2 overall has an estimated $400 million fee waiting for him if he makes the jump to LIV, according to Fox Sports Australia. As golf writer Dan Rapaport puts it, Matsuyama could be “the huge domino to fall” in the escalating war between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.

“Hideki would bring a whole, massive, golf-crazed nation under the LIV fold,” he wrote on Twitter. “They’d get a TV deal, sponsorships, team owner in Japan no problem. Which is why they’re offering him the BAG. Which is also to say if he does not go and stays on the PGA Tour that would be a big blow for LIV. Hideki is a top 5 needle-mover in golf because, and this in fact true, there are needles outside the United States.”

As Rapaport noted on Twitter, the “No Laying Up” podcast has reported Matsuyama will not be leaving the PGA Tour. “All indications that we have gotten from everyone involved in the Tour; every player, every agent and everyone we have spoken to in the last week, every sponsor, has said they believe that Hideki will be committed to the PGA Tour despite not being in this meeting,” per the pod.

The meeting that was referenced was held last week between Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and more than a dozen other top players on the PGA Tour. Among the points of discussion was a new tour-within-the-Tour series of events that would pit the PGA’s top players against one another in smaller events with bigger purses. Today, the PGA Tour announced something very similar.

“Today is a culmination of a strengthened partnership between the Tour and the players, and amongst the players themselves, it’s unprecedented for our Tour and a testament to who these guys are and what they believe in,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

Just another reason for Matsuyama to stick around.