As the St.Jude champion Will Zalatoris withdrew from the PGA’s money-making FedEx Cup Championship event at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, the sport is on the precipice of a new chapter.
It has been well reported that at the conclusion of the FedEx Cup Championship seven of the tour’s best players will pack up their clubs and next tee up in the rebel-LIV Golf Series.
Cameron Smith, Australia’s Open champion, headlines the seven players, but uncertainty lingers over the remaining defectors. Fellow Australians Marc Leishman and Adam Scott have also been linked to the LIV Golf Series, with the latter the only player in this week’s FedEx Cup field to have survived both playoff cuts after starting outside the initial top 70.
Japan’s Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama is continuing to be linked to a lucrative switch, with an estimated $US400 million joining fee a rather large carrot. His future in the PGA Tour will be one of the hot subjects as the Japanese star features in Atlanta.
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But one well-known name who won’t be switching allegiances is Tommy Fleetwood, with the Brit confirming he will tee-up at the PGA Tour’s ZOZO Championship in October.
Fleetwood missed the opening two FedEx Cup playoff events following the passing of his mother. But he remains a well-known figure on the DP World Tour and PGA Tour.
He had encouraging results at three of this year’s four majors, including a tied-fourth at The Open.
Other PGA stars Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler have also committed themselves to the ZOZO Championship.
But last year’s champion will undoubtedly be hoping that home hero Hideki Matsuyama will do the same.
“Hideki Matsuyama is believed to have agreed a deal, although he did not play in Memphis,” The Times reports.
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The reports come as Rory McIlroy, who will play alongside Smith in the FedEx Cup Championship opener, joins Tiger Woods joined forces in a new commercial venture that has been clearly designed to be a counter attraction to the Saudi-backed rebel series.
While details are yet to be set in stone, the ‘TMRW Sports’ will be the figureheads for a series of one-day events that will feature many of the world’s top players, will be stadium-based and will run in conjunction with established PGA Tour events rather than compete against them.
Zalatoris, meanwhile, has withdrawn from the $US18 million ($AU26M) FedEx Cup finale because of two herniated discs in his back.
It comes after the 26-year-old won the St. Jude Championship, which saw him climb to the top of the FedEx Cup rankings before withdrawing in the third round of the BMW Championship last week.
He was listed to start three shots behind the competition’s front-runner Scottie Scheffler, having finished in the third spot before the final event of the season.
The injury will also see him miss the Presidents Cup.
“After Will’s withdrawal from the BMW Championship on Saturday, his medical team determined that the source of his back pain is two herniated discs,” his agent Allen Hobbs said.
“Unfortunately, this means that Will is unable to play this week at the TOUR Championship. He is also very disappointed that he will not have the opportunity to play in next month’s Presidents Cup, where he was hoping to play for Captain Love and represent the United States. Will would like to thank his fans, sponsors, the TOUR, and his team for all of their support. He is fully focused on getting healthy and back onto the course as soon as he is able.”