Australian golf legend reveals he was desperate for Cameron Smith to shun LIV Golf’s $150 million bid – accusing rebel leader Greg Norman of being so ‘belligerent’
- 1991 Open Champion Ian Baker-Finch Said He Urged Cam Smith To Stay PGA Bound
- The 62-year-old does not hold a grudge against Smith for openly shifting for the coin
- Baker-Finch Believes The LIV Is A Combative Tour Due To Norman’s Hate For PGA
Open champion Ian Baker-Finch has revealed he has begged LIV poster boy Cam Smith to pledge allegiance to the PGA – saying Saudi-backed league and leader Greg Norman is “combatant” against the game of golf.
When Smith called Baker-Finch about his playing future, he referred to the discussion as a father and son-like dynamic.
Ian Baker-Finch (L) talks about the course with fellow Australian golfer Greg Norman (R) during a practice round for the 1999 Open Championship
Baker-Finch, a board member of the Australian PGA, said he was trying to entice Smith to stay with the PGA, to defend his claim as a long-term No. 1 in the world with a string of majors.
“On the last nightline of our conversation, I said, ‘Look… if I were your father, I’d tell you to take the money,’ the 62-year-old told News Corp.
“I really hoped that Cam wouldn’t go because I felt he had the ability to become number 1 in the world and create a big name for himself, like Adam Scott has done over the years, like Greg Norman himself.” did.
“When I say that, I completely understand. How can you turn down $150-$200 million? … I said I’d like you to stay. I think you can create a great legacy. Win more majors. Put your name at the top of that world ranking.”
Ian Baker-Finch poses with wife Jennie (L) and daughter Hayley (C) after winning the 1991 British Open
Smith said it felt like talking to “his old man” in what was a blunt 45-minute conversation in which he decided the money was just too much to set aside.
The two-time PGA winner holds no grudges against the Australian hero, whom he coached at the Olympics and has known since his early years on the Wantima track in Brisbane.
Still, Baker-Finch believes the LIV tour has gone about their business the wrong way, sparking a feud with the PGA that can be attributed to Greg Norman’s undying disdain for the association.
“He’s always had a problem with the PGA tour and he’s been given a platform to show why. It’s just a shame it’s so combative because I don’t think it needs to be,” he said.
Aussie star Cam Smith hoists the LIV Chicago Invitational trophy – where he won his first LIV tour event in September
Baker-Finch made just over $2 million on his tour and respects the LIV players who openly switched for the money.
He believes the problems lie with DP world tour players and non-PGA golfers accessing such a rich tour without going through the program the hard way.
The Queenslander has played 167 PGA events, made 92 cuts and is now gearing up for a massive Australian summer filled with the likes of Smith, Leishman, Woo Lee and Ogilvy.
Greg Norman (L), Peter Thomson (C) and Ian Baker-Finch smile for the 134th Open Championship – all three Aussies won the St Andrews major
For Smith’s big winning future, Baker-Finch believes the PGA cannot exclude him from the biggest tournaments because of his phenomenal Open victory.
The CBS sports commentator kissed the Claret Jug in 1991 after being in the major’s final Sunday clutch twice before.
He defeated compatriot Mike Harwood and American legend Fred Couples to become the fourth man from Down Under to win the famous tournament.