Cameron Smith hadn’t even had a chance to sip out of the Claret Jug before the newly-crowned British Open champion was asked to tackle the elephant in the room.
And Australia’s latest sporting superstar wasn’t happy.
Instead of basking in the glory of becoming the first Australian in 29 years to win golf’s oldest and great prize, Smith was asked if he was interested in joining .
Smith snapped when the British reporter said, apologetically, that he was only asking because the rumour mill was in overdrive that the 28-year-old might be signing.
“I just won the British Open, and you’re asking about that. I think that’s not good.” Smith said, before being pressed further.
“I don’t know, mate. My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”
Greg Norman, an idol of Smith’s and Australia’s most recent British Open champion in 1993, is the CEO and face of LIV Golf.
The billion-dollar organisation has already signed 23 players who competed in the 150th Open at St Andrews, including major winners Phil Mickelson, Brooks Kopeka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen.
But in a huge concern to the United State PGA Tour, there are whispers those six heavyweights may merely be the tip of the iceberg.
Cameron Smith has become the first Australian in 29 years to win golf’s oldest and great prize. Source: AAP, SIPA USA / USA TODAY Network
Now that the 2022 major season is over, speculation is rife that a raft of big-name players are about to announce their defections as soon as this week.
Iconic players from various nations and continents are said to have been offered insane amounts of money to join LIV Golf.
Johnson was reportedly paid $US200 million (A$294 million) to sign on after Tiger Woods apparently turned down a $US1 billion (A$1.5 billion) to join.
Matt Jones has so far been the only Australian PGA Tour star to defect.
Among the other international stars to have been lured across are Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Talor Gooch and 2018 Australian Open champion Abraham Ancer.
Smith used a run of five consecutive birdies to card an 8-under-par 64, overtake Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and win The Open by one stroke for his first major title Sunday at St. Andrews in Scotland.
Smith refused to answer if he intends to defect from the PGA Tour to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf. Source: AAP, Press Association / David Davies
He posted a four-round score of 20-under 268, tying the major championship record for lowest score relative to par. Cameron Young, his playing partner, eagled the 18th hole to place second with a 65, while McIlroy finished two shots back.
Smith, who began the day four shots off the pace, won The Players Championship in March and had a close call at the Masters, where he stumbled in the final round and tied for third.
“I want to thank the team, all the hard work we’ve done,” said Smith, as he accepted the Claret Jug. “The last couple years have really started to pay off, and this one definitely makes it worth it.”
McIlroy’s bogey-free 70 was only enough for third place at 18 under. He notched top-10 finishes at all four majors this year, but couldn’t cure his major title drought that dates to 2014.
“At the end of the day, it’s not life or death,” McIlroy said. “I’ll have other chances to win the Open Championship and other chances to win majors. It’s one that I feel like I let slip away, but there will be other opportunities.”