Smith holds back tears returning Claret Jug, feels LIV has strong future

Ronan MacNamara

Cameron Smith (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Rónán MacNamara at Royal Liverpool

Cameron Smith admitted he became teary-eyed returning the Claret Jug before fulfilling his media duties as defending Open champion ahead of the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

The Australian famously held off Rory McIlroy and Cameron Young with a sumptuous back nine at St Andrews to win his only major championship to date and he revealed he was overcome with emotion when returning the Claret Jug on Monday afternoon.


“I had to hand the trophy back and I thought I would be alright but I was holding back some tears so that was a moment,” explained Smith who was looking forward to linking up with Scottie Scheffler for a practice round. “I was saying to my mates it will only be a week and we’ll be drinking out of it again so hopefully it’s another week like last week.

“It wasn’t hard to hand it back but it was a moment you don’t think about and then you want it back so that’s about it. I’ll be fine, I’ll be able to sleep.

“The funnest thing was taking it back to my home club in Brisbane, it was timed perfectly they had their presentation night where they present the club champion with the trophy so I brought the Claret Jug back there and we had a pretty ripping night,” added Smith who wouldn’t mind a Sunday rematch with McIlroy around Hoylake.

“There’s plenty of guys given their week can be up there on Sunday afternoon I’m sure Rory would be one of them he’s been playing great golf over the last few months and he finally got a win which could open the floodgates for him it would be a cool story for sure.”

Smith’s winners press conference was overshadowed by questions over his future as links surrounding a move to LIV broke as soon as he had struck the winning putt. It was something that irked him at the time but he feels he made the right call in moving to the Saudi backed tour.

“It was frustrating at the time given the circumstances but looking back it’s just a guy doing his job asking a question that everyone wanted to know. I don’t have any hard feelings towards anyone at all.

“Last year seems a long time ago. It went quick for me, the decision for me to go, being back in Australia and then coming back to play. The PGA TOUR is a great place to play golf and will be for a very long time, there was no part of me that made me think I made the wrong decision over the last 8-9 months. The most stressful part was making the decision and then it was a breath of fresh air playing golf again.”

On the topic of LIV, the world number seven was asked about the future of both the PGA TOUR and LIV Golf with the details of the potential deal between the PGA and DP World Tours and the PIF yet to be finalised.

“I’m optimistic, golf is in a great spot there are lots of things up in the air, I don’t even think the guys sorting it out know what the outcome will be but I’m optimistic about the future of LIV Golf.

“LIV aside I want to try my best and be a better golfer than I was last week. I never expect too much of myself I want to make sure I tick all the boxes, make sure I’m prepared and just go out and give my all. It was such a good year last year where you almost expect to win and that’s not a good way to look at golf.

“There’s definitely something in me that wants to win two, three four, however many I can.”

Ahead of his title defence on Thursday, Smith feels he is very close to playing his best golf and knows if his long game is on song he has the short game to cook up a winning formula.

“I think the person is the same, my old boy would give me a clip around the ears if I was any different. I’m a better golfer now than I was a year ago, it’s still a work in progress cleaning up what I need to. Five iron and up has always been a struggle for me and that’s an area we have worked on harder than we had done in the past. I feel like it’s right there it just all has to come together. The first round at Centurion a couple of weeks ago was the first time I felt like it had all come together but then the driver wasn’t my friend.

“The driver just needs to behave itself. On paper it’s all there it just needs to come together for four rounds but it feels really close.

“On paper it says we have been playing less but it feels like we haven’t had a week off in months, once you get into that competitive mojo it’s good for the golf game, I’ve always been a person who can make changes on the run and that’s helped me.”


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