Aussie legend's message to Cameron Smith amid LIV Golf dramas

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Cameron Smith is pictured with the Claret Jug after winning the British Open.
Cameron Smith has been encouraged to stay with the PGA Tour by fellow Aussie British Open winner Ian Baker-Finch. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Newly crowned British Open champion Cameron Smith has been urged to resist the overtures of LIV Golf, as the cashed-up PGA rival seeks to sign the Australian to a multi-million dollar deal.

Smith's stunning rise from golfing obscurity to one of the top names on tour was completed when he fired a record final round of 64 to finish 20 under par overall - winning the famous Claret Jug in the process.

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The 28-year-old's crowning achievement was accompanied by questions about his intentions about the LIV series, which Smith bristled at during his press conference after winning.

Though he was unhappy about the questions, there is no doubt the Greg Norman fronted LIV series has coveted Smith's signature.

The arrival of the Saudi-backed series has opened up a rift in golf, which has culminated in the PGA Tour being investigated by the US government for anti-competitive behaviour.

With the PGA having threatened to ban players who sign with the rival series, for fear of being unable to compete with the eye-watering prizemoney on offer from LIV, a massive debate has erupted regarding the future of the sport.

While Smith is yet to give any indication as to what his decision will be, fellow Australian winner of the British Open, Ian Baker-Finch, says his legacy will be more secure if he stays put.

Baker-Finch, winner of the 1991 British Open, told 3AW he didn't believe the money would be an overwhelming factor for Smith.

"I know that they're talking to him and to many others," Baker-Finch told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Tuesday.

"I hope he doesn't (accept) because I think he can leave a great legacy by winning major championships and becoming the best player in the world.

"I don't think he needs the money. I don't think it's going to be something he should do.

"It's his decision - he'll be a $100 million guy or more if he did go.

"Does he want to win more majors or does he want the money?"

Cameron Smith faces LIV Golf questions after British Open win

Baker-Finch said he respected the stance taken by the likes of Rory McIlroy, who has knocked back overtures from the Saudi-backed competition.

"Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy and a lot of those guys that still compete and play well in majors and want to win majors and want to leave a legacy, they're the guys I would be following," he said.

Baker-Finch slammed the divisive way the LIV series had taken on golf's establishment.

Many critics believe the new series amounted to blatant 'sportswashing' by a nation seeking to improve its reputation in light of a history of human rights abuses.

But Baker-Finch was more worried about the potential impact on young golfers.

"The guys who go join LIV are going to miss out on the grind, what it takes to be a champion, to play in the great tournaments against the great players," he said.

"It's hard work. And you're not going to be a better player by going and playing 54-hole exhibition matches and getting paid 150-grand to finish last."

Cameron Smith pumps his fist after sinking a putt at the British Open.
Cameron Smith shot a record final round to win the 150th British Open earlier this week. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Smith snapped when a 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 pretty not that 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.

With AAP

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