Cam Smith’s ‘not that good’ LIV answer went viral. Here’s how he sees it now

Cameron Smith spoke to the media on Monday at the Open.

Cameron Smith spoke to the media on Monday at the Open.

Getty Images

HOYLAKE, England — A year ago at St. Andrews the claret jug sat to Cameron Smith‘s left as he stared out at the assembled media, one of whom had just begun the most pointed and interesting question of the session.

“Apologies for having to bring this up in these circumstances,” the reporter began, signaling what was to come.

“But your name continues to be mentioned, has been mentioned to me this week about LIV golf. What’s your position? Are you interested? Is there any truth to suggestions that you might be signing?”

The query was a sign of the times. Here we were, just minutes after the conclusion of one of golf’s biggest moments — but still a larger storyline loomed over the proceedings. LIV Golf had been poaching players for much of the summer, often blindsiding the press in the process. Brooks Koepka had been among those who’d left just after the U.S. Open. Throughout Open week, rumors swirled around the Old Course that Smith would be the next to jump. Now that he’d won, the stakes of that decision only heightened.

Still, Smith was displeased with the question in real time.

“I just won the British Open, and you’re asking about that,” he said, stone-faced. “I think that’s pretty not that good.”

The reporter, undeterred, followed up more directly.

“I appreciate that, but the question is still there. Are you interested at all? Is there any truth in that?”

Smith was dismissive in response.

“I don’t know, mate,” he said. “My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”

Perhaps it was meant as a mic-drop moment — he had, after all, just won the 150th Open at St. Andrews — but it landed somewhat hollow. If anything it felt like confirmation that Smith was likely to join the controversial upstart league. Sure enough, at the conclusion of the Tour season, Smith headlined a group of LIV signees. As the No. 2 player in the world, his was arguably the highest-caliber defection yet.

A year later, Smith returns to the Open as defending champion. While the global landscape of professional golf has hardly reached clear resolution, his press availability suggested a man at peace with his own position within it. But that doesn’t mean he’s at peace with giving up the title of defending Open champ. On Monday he handed back the claret jug, an act that he described as more emotional than he expected.

“I thought I was going to do all right, but I was actually holding back from tears. A bit of a moment, I guess, that crept up on me.”

He’s also LIV’s most recent winner after claiming the title at Centurion, just outside London, a week ago. But perhaps his most revealing moment came as he reflected on that viral question, one year later.

“Yeah, I think it was frustrating at the time, just given the circumstance,” he said. “But then I guess looking back on it, it’s just a guy just trying to do his job and asked a question that everyone really wanted to know.”

Cameron Smith avoids practice strokes while putting. Here’s why it works
By: Nick Dimengo

Perhaps the snippy response came, in part, from Smith’s inner-turmoil at the time. But it also came from being unprepared for the question. He said nobody had given him the heads up that he might get asked.

“Internally I probably knew it was going to get asked, but, yeah, there was no one there really backing me up,” he said. As a result, he answered instinctively.

You’re going to get asked this and this is what you’re going to answer. There was no one telling me that. That was just my brain and my heart telling me what I thought was right.”

Smith enters this week at No. 7 in the world. He’s trending up at the majors, finishing T34 at the Masters, T9 at the PGA and solo 4th at the U.S. Open. He remains among the best putters in the world. He’s finished inside the top 12 in his six most recent LIV events. In other words, he feels at greater ease entering this year’s event than the same time last year.

“Probably the most stressful part was trying to make the decision, and then it was almost like a breath of fresh air getting out there and playing golf again.”

He had kind words for the PGA Tour, which he called a “great place to play golf.” But he added that he expects LIV will be around for a while to come despite a proposed arrangement between the PGA Tour and the Saudi PIF, financial backers to LIV.

“I don’t think there was any part of me that made me think I made the wrong decision throughout any part of the last eight or nine months,” he concluded.

As for that question: Any regrets?

“No,” he concluded. “I don’t think I would have answered it any differently if I was less or more prepared.”

After wrapping last year’s press conference, Smith’s year as an Open champion began at the Old Course hotel. When he traveled to Australia in the offseason he brought the claret jug with him, including a “ripping time” at his home club in Brisbane. Mostly he’d be reminded of its presence when he’d see it on his desk, opening mail or doing something mundane. He got used to having it around, even as the title of major champion remained surreal.

Now he just wants to get it back.

“Yeah, that’s what I’ve been saying to all my mates. It’ll only be a week and we’ll be drinking out of it again.”

Exit mobile version