Open champ Smith sounding sad as he draws near returning Claret Jug

Fatiha Betscher

Cam Smith admires the Claret Jug (Photo by Tom Shaw/ R&A via Getty Images)

by Fatiha Betscher, Valderrama 

Open Champion Cam Smith is back in Europe for a first time since the glory of capturing last year’s 150th Open Championship admitting a tinge of sadness at the thought of having to return the famed Claret Jug.

A year ago, the champion Aussie duplicated the feats of legendary countryman Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle, being handed the Claret Jug at the Home of Golf after coming from four shots back to win by a shot over the Old Course.

Smith, 29, is in Europe teeing-up this week in sauna-like conditions in south-eastern Spain for the inaugural LIV Golf Valderrama, and on the famed Andalucia course that played host to the 1997 Ryder Cup and many DP World Tour events.


The Florida-based Aussie will contest next week’s LIV London, on the one-year anniversary of the founding of the breakaway golf league, and then spend the following week in the UK playing practice rounds on and around Royal Liverpool ahead of July 20th and the start of his Open championship defence.

And waiting for Smith when he completed his Valderrama were two autograph hunters carrying 150th Open Championship commemorative flags to be autographed.

Cam Smith signing 2022 Open flags

Smith said: “Golly, I don’t know how many of The Open flags I have signed but it’s great I get asked as I am happy to oblige.

“I know now being back in Europe, and particularly heading to London next week, I am going to get asked more and more in the lead-up to arriving at Royal Liverpool.

“While focusing on this week and next week, it’s hard for me not to keep thinking about it’s now only three weeks until I have to hand back the Claret Jug.

“In saying that, I am looking forward to it as my game is starting to feel good but I am also feeling a little bit sad, for sure, knowing that in arriving at Royal Liverpool I will have to hand back the Claret Jug”.

Smith also revealed that he’s not just returning to Royal Liverpool to hand back golf’s famed item of silverward, but to try and become a first in 15-years to retain the trophy, after Padraig Harrington captured back-to-back Open’s in 2007 and 2008.

Smith said: “Though I will be handing back the trophy, I am also going to Royal Liverpool to try and win it back.  It’s such a cool trophy, and we’ve had so much fun with it.

“I cannot tell you how many different beverages have been poured into the Claret Jug.  You name them, and they’ve been in there (laughing).

“What really has been amazing, and particularly in taking the Claret Jug down to Australia, is the reaction on people’s faces.  I describe like they’ve seen a ghost when I arrive with it.

“They just can’t get their heads around it is the real thing.  It’s one of a kind”.

Smith does have a three-quarter replica of the Claret Jug that sits in the office of his Florida house.

He said: “The replica has not had any liquids in it, as yet, but I am sure that won’t be long”.

And yes, Smith said he was made aware of the ‘mistake’ on the engraving of original Claret Jug 76-years ago this year, when the engraver at the time spelt Hoylake, ‘Holylake’, when Fred Daly won the 1947 at Royal Liverpool.

Smith said: “Someone pointed that out to me, and it’s amazing but then there was nothing wrong with the 2022 engraving, and that’s the main thing (smiling)”.

However, Smith’s first focus is this week’s $25m LIV Valderrama starting Friday with all LIV players, including recent triple PGA Champion Brooks Koepka in the field.

And new Brighton signing James Milner was on a high as his Charl Schwartzel led side won Thursday’s pro-am here at Valderrama.

Milner, 37, has a house on the Valderrama estate, playing regularly when home, and off a current 8 handicap.

On Saturday, Milner pulls on the Brighton colours for a first time in his career, joining the new Premier League starters after Brighton made a deal to sign the Liverpool midfielder on a free transfer after he enjoyed a fruitful eight-year spell at Anfield, chalking up 328 appearances with the Premier League giants.

During that time, Milner won a Champions League, Premier League, Club World Cup, FA Cup and League Cup with the club.

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One response to “Open champ Smith sounding sad as he draws near returning Claret Jug”

  1. Patricia Nagle avatar
    Patricia Nagle

    Congratulations to all the winners of The Open and owners of a Claret Jug. Smith didn’t know WHO Kel Nagle was in his interview after winning.

    However the most important one to win with the most honour was the 100th by Kel Nagle in 1960 at St Andrews in the most appalling weather conditions and playing against Arnold Palmer being the first time an USA player attempted to win The Open.

    Kel Nagle was the underdog although his remarkable win was the greatest ever.

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