150th Open Championship
Open champion Smith refuses to rule out LIV switch
Cameron Smith produced a stunning final round to win the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews – then refused to deny he is joining the controversial LIV Golf Series.
The Aussie’s eight-under-par 64 saw him finish the tournament at 20 under par, one shot better than the previous best set by Tiger Woods in 2000, and one ahead of American Cameron Young.
Rory McIlroy had looked on course to end his major championship drought when two shots ahead of the field midway through the final round. However, with Smith’s putter red-hot and McIlroy failing to take his chances, the Northern Irishman had to eagle the last to force a play-off, a feat which proved beyond the 33-year-old.
Smith had gone into the closing 18 holes four shots adrift of overnight leaders McIlroy and Viktor Hovland of Norway. He stormed to glory thanks to eight birdies on his card, including five in a row from the 10th to set a pace none of his rivals could match.
He may have been delighted to lift the Claret Jug but in his press conference afterwards, he wasn’t so happy at the questions coming his way from the media regarding the Liv Golf rumours.
“I just won the British Open and you’re asking about that? I think that’s pretty not that good,” he said.
When asked again about the suggestion he is set to become the latest high-profile golfer recruited by LIV figurehead, fellow-Aussie Greg Norman, Smith said: “I don’t know, mate. My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”
The build-up to the tournament had been dominated by talk of the rebel breakaway, and it seems the aftermath is destined to suffer a similar fate with former Open champion Henrik Stenson reportedly ready to join the rebels, and lose his European Ryder Cup captaincy in the process.
The Swede is due to lead Europe into battle against USA in Italy next year but involvement in the LIV Golf rebel tour would see him stripped of that honour, with reports suggesting Luke Donald could be his replacement.
Reflecting on his memorable triumph, Smith said: “It was absolutely awesome out there, I thought the course was exactly how an Open Championship should be played; firm and fast, tough pins – it was just unreal.
“This place is so cool. To have the 150th Open here and walk away with the win is just something that I’ve dreamt of.
“I didn’t even know I was going to get this far and it’s just awesome. It’s unreal to look at these names on this trophy and to add mine. I’m lost for words.”
McIlroy, without a major win since 2014, will reflect on what might have been in Fife.
“I had a great opportunity to add to that major tally and I didn’t quite get it done,” he said.
“I didn’t feel like I did many things wrong, but the putter went cold on me throughout the round.
“I got beaten by the better player this week. To shoot 64 to win an Open Championship at St Andrews is one hell of a showing, so hats off to Cam, he’s had an unbelievable week.”
A final round of 68 saw Robert McIntyre finish as top Scot on a seven-under-par total of 281.