British Open champion Cameron Smith believes the future is bright for golf despite the uncertainty over how a proposed merger between the PGA Tour and Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) will play out.
Smith was one of the biggest names to join the PIF-backed breakaway LIV Golf tour last year, which sparked months of litigation in both the United States and Europe.
A shock announcement last month revealed the PGA and DP World Tours had a “framework agreement” to merge with the PIF’s golf-related commercial businesses, including LIV Golf.
However, details remain sparse as to how the deal will work in practice after the LIV defectors were initially banned from playing on the PGA Tour.
“I’m optimistic. I think golf is in a great spot,” said Smith, who begins his defence of the British Open at Hoylake on Thursday.
“There’s obviously a lot of things that are up in the air that no one really knows at the moment.
“I don’t even think the guys that are trying to sort it out really know what this outcome is going to be like.”
Documents from a US Senate investigation into the deal last week revealed the PGA Tour had requested the firing of LIV chief commissioner Greg Norman during negotiations.
But Smith came out in support of his fellow Australian, who has alienated many key figures on the PGA Tour over the past two years.
“I’ve kind of become a bit of a friend of Greg’s, I guess, the last eight or nine months,” added Smith.
“Personally I think he’s doing a great job for our Tour. He’s looking out for our best interests.
“That’s all you can ask of a guy that’s running the show. I’d love to see him keep on.”
Smith’s move to LIV shortly after his first major victory 12 months ago somewhat overshadowed his stunning performance at St. Andrews to equal the record winning score at a British Open of 20 under par.
The 29-year-old is desperate to become the first man since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to retain the British Open so he does not have to part with the Claret Jug for long.
“I just had to hand back the trophy there. I thought I was going to do all right, but I was actually holding back from tears,” he said.
“What I’ve been saying to all my mates, it’ll only be a week and we’ll be drinking out of it again.
“You never know, sometimes you can play your best golf at major championships and you can run fourth or fifth.
“Hopefully it’s another week like last year and I’m back with the trophy.”
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