Cameron Smith took exception to a reporter’s line of questioning after his Open win but it didn’t stop the rumour mill going into overdrive.

The feel-good vibes for Cameron Smith after his incredible win at The Open Championship took an icy turn as the Aussie hit back at a reporter during his press conference at St Andrews.

Smith shot a stunning final-round 64 on Monday morning (AEST) to storm home and claim his maiden major title, finishing one shot clear of playing partner, American Cameron young.

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The Queenslander’s total of 20-under par across the tournament is the lowest winning score in an Open at St Andrews, bettering the performance of Tiger Woods, who won with 19-under in 2000.

But despite becoming just the third Australian to win The Open at the home of golf, after Peter Thomson in 1955 and Kel Nagle in 1960, not everyone wanted to talk about what just transpired on the famous fairways.

The Saudi-backed LIV Series — being spearheaded by Aussie champion Greg Norman, himself a two-time Open winner — is the talk of the golf world these days and Smith was asked if he had any intention of joining the rebel league.

Big name players like Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka have been slammed for abandoning the PGA and siding with LIV, with many suggesting stars’ motivation for defecting is purely money-related.

There are concerns about the series being used as a form of sportswashing from Saudi Arabia to improve its image on the world stage, given its shocking human rights record.

Smith was in no mood to chat, shooting down the reporter who said his name had been floated as a potential recruit for Norman anc Co.

“I just won the British Open and you’re asking about that? I think that’s, pretty, not that good,” Smith said.

Pressed further on his plans, Smith added: “I don’t know, mate. My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”

As was noted by many on social media, despite Smith’s stern response, it certainly wasn’t a denial.

Golf pundit Geoff Shackelford said Smith’s presser “took a chilly turn with the needed-to-be-asked LIV question”, adding the Aussie’s response gave a “big non-denial vibe”.

Veteran New York Times sports reporter Christopher Clarey tweeted: “The brand new British Open champion Cam Smith was just asked if there was any truth to the rumours that he may jump to the breakaway LIV tour. He rejected the question but that was hardly a denial.”

Sports journalist Frankie Christou said Smith’s answer “sounded like a huge non denial to me”.

Norman himself tweeted his congratulations to Smith on Monday morning.

Smith’s testy exchange with the journalist came after golfer Lee Westwood blamed the media for “stoking’’ the tension between LIV players and non-LIV players earlier during The Open.

“I think the media are stoking it up and doing as much as they can to aid that,’’ Westwood said. “I think the general public just want to go out there and see good golf no matter where it’s being played or who’s playing it.’’

When there was pushback from a reporter on that, Westwood said: “We could stand here and argue all day, but … I’ve spoken to a lot of (non-LIV players) and there’s no animosity between players. Yet the story’s been written that there are. Yeah, you’re creating issues where there are none. You want to be that way, fine.’’

Tensions elevated when a reporter suggested the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) wouldn’t be happy to see a player from LIV Golf win The Open.

“Who told you that, (R&A CEO) Martin Slumbers?’’ Westwood said. “Did he tell you the R&A wouldn’t be happy? Did he say that?’’

When the reporter said “No”, Westwood responded: “Well, you just made that up then, all right. So, we don’t need to have that conversation, do we? I think he’ll be happy with whoever is the Champion Golfer of the Year holding the trophy aloft … because they’ll have played the best.

“And that’s what the R&A want from this championship. They want the best player to win, regardless of what Tour they play on.’’

The shadow of the rebel LIV Golf tour hung over St Andrews early in the week with Norman, the last Australian to lift the Claret Jug, uninvited to the champions’ dinner because of his central role with the Saudi-backed project.

Meanwhile, Smith’s first major will be a hard one to match as the man from Brisbane produced a scintillating final round to claim victory.

“To win an Open Championship in itself is probably going to be a golfer’s highlight in their career,” said Smith. “To do it around St Andrews, is just unbelievable.”

The stage appeared set for Rory McIlroy to end his eight-year wait to win another major as the Northern Irishman shared the overnight lead with Viktor Hovland, four shots clear of Smith.

Despite not dropping a shot all day, the world number two was still two shots shy of the winning mark.

“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,” said McIlroy. “Hats off to Cam, he’s had an unbelievable week.”

Yet, Smith’s performance over the past four days was no shock from one of the best players in the world this year.

The 28-year-old won the Players’ Championship, considered the fifth major, in March and set a new PGA record by winning the Tournament of Champions on 34-under-par in January.

“The Players’ at the start of the year, with the best field in golf, to go away with the win was a really big confidence booster,” said Smith.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be too long before I got one of these. I’ve knocked on the door, I think, maybe one too many times now. So it’s nice to get it done.”

With AFP

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