As Cameron Smith arrived at Royal Liverpool for this year’s Open Championship, an emotional moment unfolded when he returned the cherished Claret Jug to the R&A. The Australian golfer, who claimed victory in last year’s Open at St Andrews, is now on a quest to emulate the achievement of Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, the last player to win consecutive titles in 2006-2007.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Smith revealed the depth of his attachment to the iconic trophy, saying, “I didn’t think I’d ever have to give it back. It was a sad moment that crept up on me a little bit. Once you have something as great as that, you don’t want to let go of it.” Smith’s remarkable performance at the Old Course, where he fired an impeccable bogey-free eight-under-par 64, securing a one-shot victory over American Cameron Young with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy finishing in third place, remains etched in his memory.
Maintaining his trademark laid-back demeanor, the 29-year-old jokingly told his friends, “It’ll only be a week, and we’ll be drinking out of [the Claret Jug] again. Hopefully, it’s another week like last year, and I’m back with the trophy.” Smith, who has been in England for several weeks, arrives at The Open Championship in good form after his recent triumph at the Centurion Golf Club, the most recent LIV Golf event.
While uncertainty surrounds the potential merger between LIV Golf’s funders, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, and the PGA Tour, Smith remains focused on his game. Although he acknowledges being in the dark alongside others regarding the merger’s development, his determination to give his best effort each week and enhance his skills as a golfer remains unwavering. “I think I’m actually a better golfer now than I was last year,” he confidently stated. Smith also expressed gratitude for the warm reception of LIV Golf in Australia, emphasizing that the support he received from his home country was of utmost importance to him. He fondly recalled the absence of public controversy when he switched tours and played in the PGA and the Open in Australia last year. The fans’ joy in seeing him play golf meant a great deal.
When asked if winning a major championship had changed him in any way, Smith responded with a smile, “I think the person is the same. I think my old boy would give me a clip around the ears if I was any different.”