PGA Tour winner Lucas Herbert says he is done with the constant chatter about LIV Golf and wants the topic to take a back seat, ahead of what promises to be an exciting summer of Australian golf.
The Australian Open will take place next month for the first time since the 2019 edition preceded two Opens canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many stars are coming to compete at the men’s and women’s Australian Open, including Herbert, British Open champion Cameron Smith, major winner Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Matt Jones, Hannah Green and Minjee Lee, among others. The Men’s and Women’s Opens will be played simultaneously at Kingston Heath and Victoria Golf Clubs in Melbourne from December 1-4, a week after a group of big names also tee off at the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland.
The chance to take on world number 3 Smith while competing for the Joe Kirkwood Cup (PGA) or Stonehaven Cup (Open) is what Herbert is looking forward to about the Australian summer of golf after a long year at play around the world. He said winning twice on the European Tour and at the PGA Tour’s Bermuda Championship in 2021 prepared him to compete with the talents of Smith, 2013 Masters champion Scott and Leishman at an Australian Open on the Melbourne sandbelt.
“(Smith is) your Australian player of the year, without a doubt, and I know he loves coming home and doing these events. So I think everyone in the field would be looking at Cam because he’s the guy they need to beat,” said Herbert, who has two top-15 finishes in the Majors this year, all the way from South Africa where he participates in the Nedbank Challenge of the DP World Tour.
“But I also know that Leish, Scotty (Adam Scott) and myself are all sitting there knowing that if we play well, we can compete with Cam and definitely have a chance to beat him. I spent a season at playing against these boys week in and week out so I’m sort of used to that and they don’t have the same effect that they might have on some of the other guys on the pitch who were up early on a Monday morning to watch them complete PGA Tour events.
“I don’t put an event on my schedule just to relax and laugh. If I put an event on my schedule, I want to play well and I want to win it. I know Cam will be there to try to win and he’s someone I’d love to face in the back nine on Sunday. If he starts and plays really well, we’ll probably struggle, but these days we’re all capable of fighting.
This year, the emergence of LIV Golf made headlines as a bitter feud erupted between the established PGA and DP World tours. LIV Golf is headed by Australian Greg Norman as its managing director and is financed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.
LIV has poached a host of top players from the PGA Tour, including Smith, Leishman, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and others. Smith was the biggest signing given he won three of his six total PGA Tour titles this year – including the Tournament of Champions, The Players Championship and The Open at St Andrews – before joining LIV in August.
But Herbert said reporters’ questions about LIV golf had become tedious and players wanted to put the matter behind them.
“I think everyone is sick and tired of talking and answering questions about (LIV),” Herbert said. “To be honest… for maybe the first month, I think everyone was kind of trying to figure out what was going on and who was going to go with who and what it was going to look like.
“I would say that the two or three tours will exist and there will be no crossover. You won’t have players playing on both circuits. I think all the players who went there knew what they were getting into. They knew the PGA Tour was going to ban them, but now I don’t necessarily agree with how they can complain about not being able to play on the PGA Tour anymore.
“I think the tour players are now pretty much done with (the subject of LIV). We all just want to come and play and there are two pretty big lawsuits going on. We don’t see the guys from LIV much anymore.
“But, you know, it’s their fight and I’m not involved in it at all.”