Cameron Smith is staying optimistic on chances of defending his Open Championship title

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Cameron Smith is staying optimistic over his chances of defending his Open Championship title after emotionally returning the Claret Jug

  • Cameron Smith has returned the Claret Jug in what was an emotional farewell 
  • The Australian is though staying optimistic on his chances of winning again
  • Smith also admitted that he would ‘love to see Greg Norman kept on’ at LIV Golf 

With tears in his eyes, Cameron Smith handed back the Claret Jug on Monday. With some confidence he then predicted a short wait until he has it back.

Such optimism is not misplaced. For all the consternation around his defection to LIV in the wake of winning the Open last summer, the Australian has retained his form on the rebel circuit and has arrived at Hoylake prominent among the favourites.

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That much was underlined by his victory at Centurion a fortnight ago, and with LIV having already supplied one major champion this season, via Brooks Koepka’s win at the US PGA Championship, Smith, 29, is well positioned to make another statement this week.

‘I just had to hand back the trophy there,’ he said upon taking his seat to address the media as the reigning champion. ‘I thought I was going to do all right, but I was actually holding back tears. It was a bit of a moment that crept up on me.

Cameron Smith (left) has returned the Claret Jug ahead of the Open Championship next weekend

Cameron Smith (left) has returned the Claret Jug ahead of the Open Championship next weekend

It was an emotional moment for the defending champion, who won his first major title at St Andrews last year

It was an emotional moment for the defending champion, who won his first major title at St Andrews last year

Smith (pictured) joined LIV Golf soon after he won the championship, and has admitted that he would 'love Greg Norman to be kept on' amid speculation over the Australian's future

Smith (pictured) joined LIV Golf soon after he won the championship, and has admitted that he would ‘love Greg Norman to be kept on’ amid speculation over the Australian’s future 

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‘I’ve been saying to all my mates that it’ll only be a week and we’ll be drinking out of it again. ‘Hopefully it’s another week like last year and I’m back with the trophy.’

Of course, it was Smith who was responsible for two of the most startling moments in golf in 2022, first for the final-round 64 that broke Rory McIlroy’s heart at St Andrews, and then his decision to leave the PGA Tour in the aftermath.

The latter sparked the question of whether a golfer could remain competitive within the LIV ecosystem of fewer and 54-hole tournaments, but that has been disproven by each of the major leaderboards this season. 

Indeed, it is Smith’s view that he will start this Championship as a better player than the one who won the last, having added better play off the tee to a putting game that is arguably the finest in golf.

Smith (right) is aiming to become the second LIV player to win a major, with Brooks Koepka (left) achieving the feat earlier this year at the PGA Championship

Smith (right) is aiming to become the second LIV player to win a major, with Brooks Koepka (left) achieving the feat earlier this year at the PGA Championship 

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Smith is in a good place to attack the course this weekend, having finished fourth at the US Open and ninth at the PGA Championship

Smith is in a good place to attack the course this weekend, having finished fourth at the US Open and ninth at the PGA Championship  

‘My five iron and up has always been a bit of a struggle for me, and that’s an area of the game that we’ve worked harder on than in the past,’ said Smith. ‘I feel like it’s right there. It feels really close.’

At a time of immense uncertainty in golf, which owes as much to the thin details of the merger between feuding tours as it does the chaos that preceded it, the future of LIV commissioner Greg Norman is in considerable doubt. 

Smith has backed his fellow Australian to stay in his post, saying: ‘I’ve kind of become a bit of a friend of Greg’s in the last eight or nine months. He’s doing a great job for our tour. I’d love to see him kept on.’



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