Open champion Smith declines to rule out LIV move


Cameron Smith said to win the historic 150th Open Championship at St Andrews was “unbelievable”, but then did not rule out joining the controversial Saudi-funded LIV Golf series.

The 28-year-old won his first major at the Old Course in Scotland on Sunday.

But when asked about rumours linking him with a move to the series fronted by fellow Australian Greg Norman, he said: “I don’t know, mate.

“My team worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”

He added: “I just won The Open, and you’re asking about that. I think that’s not good.”

Talk of the LIV Golf series has rumbled on all week in St Andrews. The R&A had hoped to keep the focus on their landmark championship by not inviting Norman, a two-time winner of The Open, to an exhibition event and dinner for past champions.

It was a move Norman – a friend of Smith – called “petty”, while players such as Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood have fielded questions this week about their involvement in the £1.6bn start-up.

Garcia, talking to Spanish reporters, said he was going to quit the European-based DP World Tour “imminently” after completing his final round at St Andrews – a move that would make Europe’s record Ryder Cup points-scorer ineligible to play in next year’s contest in Italy.

“I have given more than half my life to the European Tour and I wanted to continue playing it, but I am not going to be where they don’t want me,” said Garcia, who recently quit the PGA Tour.

‘I love the golf course, love the town’

Smith reeled in overnight co-leaders Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland’s four-stroke final-round advantage to win by one shot from American Cameron Young, with McIlroy finishing two shots back in third.

“To win an Open Championship in itself is probably going to be a golfer’s highlight in their career,” said Smith. “To do it around St Andrews, I think is just unbelievable.”

“This place is so cool. I love the golf course. I love the town.”

He celebrated the victory with his team, after his father decided at the last minute not to make the trip from Australia because of the long flight and the “thought of doing all that travel for one week”.

“My dad was actually meant to come over, and he pulled out in the last minute basically. I had a quick chat with him before. He’s kicking himself now,” laughed Smith.

“I really wish he was here too. It would have been such a cool week, even without this, to be at the home of golf. Dad loves his golf as well. It would have been awesome.”

The Brisbane-born golfer joked during his television interviews that he would see how many beers would fit in the Claret Jug, adding in his news conference the answer might be two.

“I’ll probably have about 20 Claret Jugs,” said Smith, who confirmed his iconic mullet hairstyle would be staying. “To be honest, I’m really tired. It’s been a long week, so I’d be surprised if I make it past 10:00 or 11:00 tonight!”

‘Rory will get a fifth major very soon’

For the galleries at St Andrews, this was meant to be the fairytale Open that ended McIlroy’s eight-year major drought, and it looked like it would be that way until Smith’s sublime run of five successive birdies on the back nine.

“He’s obviously a great player,” said Smith about the Northern Irishman.

“He’s one of those guys that you can’t help but stop when he’s hitting balls on the range, and he just keeps knocking on doors every week, it seems like. He’s probably the most consistent player out here.

“Yeah, he’s going to get a [fifth] major, I’m sure, very soon. He’s just really solid. For me, I’ve played with Rory a few times, and there’s really nothing that you can fault.”

Smith had held a two-shot lead heading into the weekend only to see the evaporate as McIlroy and Hovland played some fantastic golf on Saturday. The newly crowned major champion headed to the putting green to get some practice before he left that night.

“I knew my game was there. I felt really comfortable,” he added. “I didn’t do anything wrong [on Saturday]. It was just really one of those days.

“So I shrugged it off pretty good, hit a few putts. I just wanted to see a few putts go in. I didn’t think there was really anything wrong technically. I just wanted to see a few putts go in before I went to sleep, and that kind of put me at ease to know that it really wasn’t me, it was just kind of one of those days.

“That was the best thing I did all week, just to go out there and spend five minutes on the green.”

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