Rory McIlroy intends to take a break from golf after his US Open collapse as the Northern Irishman bemoaned the toughest day of his career following further major disappointment at Pinehurst.

The four-time major champion has not triumphed in one of golf's top events since 2014 at the PGA Championship.

McIlroy came within touching distance of ending that decade-long wait on Sunday but fell short in disappointing circumstances as Bryson DeChambeau claimed the US Open title by a shot in North Carolina.

The 35-year-old McIlroy managed to bogey three of his final four holes in the last round at Pinehurst's No.2 course, including a woeful miss from a short putting distance on the 18th.

DeChambeau was left to save par with an impressive up-and-down from the near-side bunker, leaving McIlroy to rue another missed opportunity on the major stage.

"Yesterday was a tough day, probably the toughest I've had in my nearly 17 years as a professional golfer," McIlroy wrote on social media.

"Firstly, I'd like to congratulate Bryson. He is a worthy champion and exactly what professional golf needs right now. I think we can all agree on that.

"As I reflect on my week, I'll rue a few things over the course of the tournament, mostly the two missed putts on 16 and 18 on the final day.

"But, as I always try to do, I'll look at the positives of the week that far outweigh the negatives. As I said at the start of the tournament, I feel closer to winning my next major championship than I ever have.

"The one word that I would describe my career as is resilient. I've shown my resilience over and over again in the last 17 years and I will again."

McIlroy was expected to play in this week's Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

However, the world number two confirmed he will not feature as McIlroy prepares for a break after suffering a brutal blow to his major hopes.

"I'm going to take a few weeks away from the game to process everything and build myself back up for my defence of the Genesis Scottish Open and The Open at Royal Troon," he concluded.

The Scottish Open does not start until July 11, leaving McIlroy with almost a month to recover from this setback.

Phil Mickelson expects the four majors to find a way to include the cream of LIV Golf talent even if ranking system chiefs refuse to award points to the breakaway series.

LIV bosses are pushing for the official world golf rankings (OWGR) to award points for its events, but that has yet to come about.

There is no guarantee the situation will change, but Mickelson cannot see how it is in anyone's interest for the majors, golf's pinnacle events, to exclude some of the sport's biggest stars.

His LIV Golf colleague Bryson DeChambeau labelled the rankings "almost obsolete" when he spoke this week in Singapore. He has slipped from inside the top 30 to 178th since committing to LIV, where lucrative sign-up fees and prize money have drawn a host of golf's elite players.

Mickelson and Brooks Koepka, who both defected from the PGA Tour to LIV, finished tied for second at the recent Masters.

Sharp dips in ranking status could mean LIV stars are frozen out from the majors, but there seems likely to be an arrangement reached.

Reflecting on the sport's showpiece occasions and future prospects for LIV players, Mickelson said: "It's going to all iron itself out because if you're one of the majors, if you're the Masters, you're not looking at we should keep these guys out.

"You're saying to yourself, we want to have the best field, we want to have the best players, and these guys added a lot to the tournament this year at the Masters. How do we get them included?

"We have to come up with a qualifying mechanism that is inclusive, and if the world golf ranking isn't going to be inclusive, then they have to find another way.

"Maybe they take the top five or top 10 or winners of LIV, but they're going to have to find a way to get the best LIV players in their field if they want to have the best field in golf and be really what major championship is about. So they're already looking at that.

"If the world golf rankings doesn't find a way to be inclusive, then the majors will just find another way to include LIV because it's no longer a credible way.

"So it will all iron itself out for the simple reason that it's in the best interest of everybody, especially the tournaments, the majors, to have the best players."

The US PGA Championship is coming up in May, followed by the U.S. Open in June and the Open Championship in July.

Meanwhile, the Singapore leg of the controversial, Saudi-backed LIV series begins on Friday.

DeChambeau, a former winner of the U.S. Open, has little time for the ranking system as it stands.

"You should realise that the OWGR is not accurate, one," he said. "Two, I think that they need to come to a resolution, or it will become obsolete. It's pretty much almost obsolete as of right now.

"But again, if the majors and everything continue to have that as their ranking system, then they are biting it quite heavily."

Rory McIlroy supports the controversial proposals that would see new golf balls introduced to tackle ever-increasing driving distances.

The R&A and United States Golf Association (USGA) last week proposed a "Model Local Rule" that would allow organisers and tournaments the option to use a modified ball that reduces hitting distance by approximately 15 yards.

The move was first mooted in 2020 as a way of decreasing the distance modern tour professionals hit the ball amid fears golf courses will soon not be long enough to provide a suitable test in elite competitions. 

The proposals have been met with widespread criticism from manufacturers and players alike, with Justin Thomas last week describing the move as "so bad for the game of golf."

However, four-time major champion McIlroy, who is currently playing at the World Golf Championships Match Play in Texas, is not so angry. 

Speaking to No Laying Up, he said: "For elite-level play, I really like it. I really do.

"I know that's a really unpopular opinion amongst my peers, but I think it's going to help identify who the best players are a bit easier. Especially in this era of parity that we've been living in these past couple of decades.

"Selfishly, I think it helps me. I think this is only going to help the better player. It might help the longer player too, in some ways but I think it's going to help the overall professional game. 

"I think making guys hit some long irons again, and some mid irons, and being able to hit every club in your bag in a round of golf.… I can't remember the last time when I've had to do that. 

"I don't know if this change in the ball will make us do that, but it certainly is a step closer to that."

Martin Slumbers and Mike Whan, the heads of the respective organisations, confirmed the rule would not be implemented until 2026 but would then be introduced for their elite events – the Open Championship and the U.S. Open.

There is no obligation for the PGA Tour to adopt the rules, but McIlroy suggested he might still consider using a rolled-back ball in regular-season events to better prepare for the majors. 

"Honestly, for me, the major championships are the biggest deal, so if the PGA Tour doesn't implement it, I might still play the Model Local Rule ball, because I know that'll give me the best chance and the best preparation leading into the major championships," he added. 

"And again, this is personal preference and personal opinion at this stage of my career. I know that I'm going to be defined by the amount of major championships that I hopefully will win from now until the end of my career. And that's the most important thing for me.

"If that gives me the best chance to succeed at the major championships and feel as prepared as I possibly can be, then that's what I would do."

Justin Thomas has labelled the prospect of shorter balls being used in elite tournaments "so bad" and slammed the "pretty selfish decisions" of golf's governing bodies. 

The R&A and USGA have proposed a Model Local Rule that would allow organisers and tournaments the option to use a modified golf ball that reduces hitting distance by approximately 15 yards.

Martin Slumbers and Mike Whan, the heads of the respective organisations, confirmed the rule would not be implemented until 2026 but would then be introduced for their elite events – the Open Championship and the U.S. Open.

The plans were first mooted in 2020 to tackle concerns around the ever-increasing distance professionals hit the ball, but Tuesday's announcement has been met with criticism from numerous players.  

"My reaction was disappointed and also not surprised, to be honest," two-time major champion Thomas said ahead of the Valspar Championship in Florida. 

"I think the USGA over the years has in my eyes – it's harsh – made some pretty selfish decisions. 

"I don't understand how this is growing the game.  

"For them to say in the same sentence that 'golf is in the best place it's ever been, everything is great, but...' I'm like, well, there shouldn't be a 'but' – you're trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn't exist.  

"To me, it's just so bad for the game of golf. 

"Some of the great things to me is the fact that you can play the exact same golf ball that I play. I mean, that's cool. For an everyday amateur golfer, it's very unique that we are able to play the exact same equipment. 

"I understand that I may have a different grind on a wedge, whatever you want to call it, but you can go to the pro shop and buy the same golf ball that I play or Scottie Scheffler plays or whatever."

Thomas, who is sponsored by ball-manufacturer Titleist, ridiculed the idea that professionals would end up using different balls at different tournaments and even suggested some of the game's stars may ignore the proposals if they were implemented.  

"The amount of time and money that these manufacturers have spent trying to create the best product possible, and now you're going to tell them and us that we have to start over," he said.

"If the PGA Tour, PGA of America don't adopt this local rule... two of the four biggest events of the year, we're going to have to use a different ball?

"Why are this group of call it five to 15-handicapped amateurs determining the rules of golf for professional golfers? Or why are they saying that we have to do something? 

"So, is it something where down the road, if you want to change something based off of your data that we feel like is pretty biased and incorrect and self-centred to what you believe in, then maybe we'll just create our own, or we'll do our own thing.” 

Rory McIlroy applauded Kurt Kitayama's maiden PGA Tour victory after the pair were split by a single stroke at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The Northern Irishman tied for second alongside Harris English at eight under as Kitayama finally ended his runners-up hoodoo to claim victory at Bay Hill Club and Lodge.

After three near-misses on the tour in 2022, including a one-stroke loss to McIlroy at the CJ Cup, Kitayama's victory saw him rewarded for his perseverance.

Speaking afterwards, McIlroy was happy to sing the praises of his fellow player, while acknowledging he was frustrated to have come up shy after just missing his putt at the final hole.

"I think [Kitayama] has been playing pretty well," McIlroy said. "He's sort of persevered and played wherever he could get starts.

"All of a sudden, he's won one of the biggest events on the PGA Tour, so good for him.

"It's disappointing. To play the final five holes in one over par, with this jam-packed leaderboard, isn't really going to get it done.

"It was a battle all day. I felt like I hung in there really well and just came up one short in the end."

Kitayama qualified for The Open with his victory and will hope to finally have an impact on a major. He was tied for 72nd last year.

"Last year was special, with it being at St Andrews," he said. "The Open Championship is a really cool experience.

"I haven't done well, but I've just got to try to keep getting myself back in it and keep getting better."

Tiger Woods confirmed he plays to play all four majors but little else this year after finishing under par on his latest comeback at the Genesis Invitational.

Woods, playing his first non-major PGA Tour event since October 2020, posted rounds of 69, 74 and 67 before closing on Sunday with a two-over 73 on his final trip around Riviera Country Club, to score one under par overall.

It was the first time Woods had completed a 72-hole tournament since the Masters in April, and he noticeably had far less of a limp this time around as he continued to manage his badly damaged ankle.

He was interviewed by CBS after finishing, reflecting on his week, and said: "My game is fine.

"Yeah, it is rusty, I made some silly mistakes here and there. I didn't quite pick up the speed of the greens each and every day fast enough – like I normally would if I was playing – but overall, I feel like I hit the ball like I have been hitting it at home.

"Now I just happened to bring it out here where I had to walk from point A to point B, and that was always the difficulty of it.

"I'm just so thankful for all my team for getting me ready each and every night, and morning, and at least giving myself a chance to go out there and play – and I was able to do it."

After a better-than-expected showing, the 15-time major winner was asked when he plans to play again.

"Competitively, I don't know," Woods said. "My goal each and every year from here going forward is to play in all the majors.

"I'm not going to play too much more than that. My body – my leg, and my back – just won't allow me to play much more than that any more.

"That was my goal last year, and I was able to play three of the four. This year hopefully I can play all four. That is going to be my schedule going forward, because of all the limitations I have."

Woods shared part of the reason he decided to play this week, highlighting the special place in his heart held by Riviera Country Club.

"This wasn't the first PGA Tour I ever attended… but I was here [at the 1983 US PGA Championship] when Hal [Sutton] beat Jack [Nicklaus]," he said.

"This is truly – either here or maybe even St Andrews – one of the most historical tee shots, because they can't go anywhere but that same tee box. You look back in history at this club and everyone has hit from the exact same tee spot on 18.

"I was lucky enough to be part of that history, and play the golf course, and unfortunately my streak still continues, I've never won here, but hopefully next year.

"I'm a So-Cal kid at heart, and to be able to go to from my PGA Tour debut… to now being the host of this event, I would never have foreseen that. I'm very lucky, and very thankful."

Rory McIlroy feels like he is on a “journey” to winning another major title and is optimistic his drought could end next season.

The Northern Irishman has enjoyed a successful 2022, winning the FedEx Cup for the third time and ending the season at the top of the world rankings.

McIlroy endured the agony of missing out on being crowned Open champion after putting himself in a great position to win it, while he was runner-up in The Masters and finished eighth in the PGA Championship.

It is eight years since the 33-year-old won the last of his four major tiles, but he is confident he will not have much longer to wait for the fifth.

"I'm really excited for the majors next year," he told RTE. "I haven't felt this good going into a season, especially a major season, in a long, long time.

"It didn’t happen [in The Open at St Andrews] and it was really hard to see the picture clearly at that time. But a week or two after that, you reflect on it and think 'I'm way closer to winning a major now than I have been in a long time'.

"It's a journey again. I feel like I'm on this journey to win my first major again, which is a really great feeling. I'm getting closer, I'm laying the foundations, and I'm sort of building it step by step."

McIlroy also reiterated that he feels LIV Golf boss Greg Norman should step down for the good of the sport.

"He's become too divisive of a figure," he added. "There's no hope of dialogue going forward if he's involved.

"We have a plethora of amazing golfers on the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, but I think the game is healthier as a whole if we're all playing together.

"Greg's done his bit, he's been disruptive, he's been divisive. But now I think it's time for someone to come in and cooler heads to talk about this.

"If that happens, the game of golf will hopefully end up in a better place than it is right now."

Rory McIlroy thinks he may have given Tiger Woods COVID-19 on the eve of the Open Championship after the pair played at a charity event beforehand.

The Northern Irishman, who claimed a third FedEx Cup this year, has forged a close bond over the years with the American, one strengthened by their shared views on the LIV Golf breakaway this season.

While several of their rivals warmed up at the Scottish Open for this year's Open, McIlroy and Woods played at a fundraising event hosted by JP McManus at Adare Manor.

Now, four-time major winner McIlroy has revealed he played at St Andrews while battling COVID-19 – and that he fears he gave it to Woods after the two dined together.

"I woke up feeling a bit achy but didn't really think anything of it," he told the Irish Independent. "[But] as I'm getting up from the table, I'm sore and stiff and super tired.

"I slept for maybe two hours, and the sweat was just pouring off me. Erica [McIlory's wife] took my temperature, and it was sky-high.

"[Tiger] texted me that night with chills and fever. I'm like 'f****** hell, I've just given Tiger COVID. This is horrendous!'. So we both had COVID going into the Open.

"The whole week of the Open, I didn't have any taste, and everything [was] like vinegar to me. Everything. It was really strange."

Woods went on to miss the cut at the Open, while McIlroy was edged out by Cameron Smith on the final day at St Andrews.

McIlroy did end the season on a high, topping the DP World Tour rankings and returning to number one in the world.

Dan Bradbury sealed a first DP World Tour victory in just his third professional start as he won the Joburg Open on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Englishman only recently joined the paid ranks and was participating after a sponsor's invitation, but he won by three shots on 21 under par to not only secure the trophy, but also a place at the Open Championship next year.

Bradbury went into the final round with a one-stroke lead but never showed any sign of letting up on Sunday at Houghton Golf Club, shooting a round of 67 with five birdies and just one bogey, coming on the final hole.

Finland's Sami Valimaki claimed second place on 18 under, one shot ahead of South Africans Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Daniel van Tonder, who tied for third.

Bradbury said after his win: "It won't sink in for a few days, I don't think. It's just a lot of pressure taken off your back, that's nice, but it hasn't sunk in yet and I don't think it will for a while."

He felt pressure from Valimaki on the back nine yet kept his focus, securing a two-year tour exemption as well as his Open ticket.

"But it was kind of the same thing all week, just keep playing my own game and I knew I was playing good enough," Bradbury said. "It turned out that way in the end."

By taking the top three spots, Bradbury, Valimaki and Bezuidenhout all qualified for the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool in July 2023, with Bezuidenhout claiming the final place ahead of Van Tonder thanks to his higher position in the world rankings.

Tiger Woods has announced he will make his return to golf next month at the Hero World Challenge.

The tournament, which Woods hosts, will take place at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas from December 1-4.

Woods confirmed his involvement in a Twitter post on Wednesday.

The 15-time major winner has not played since he missed the cut at The Open at St Andrews in July.

Woods has only played nine competitive rounds of golf in 2022 – at the Masters, the US PGA Championship and The Open – following a car crash last year that left him with significant leg injuries. 

He has previously stated the damage caused by the accident means he will no longer be able to play a full schedule on the PGA Tour.

Woods also confirmed in his post Kevin Kisner and Tommy Fleetwood had been added to the Hero World Challenge field.

I am excited to announce that I will be in the field for this year’s #HeroWorldChallenge. A big welcome to @K_Kisner and @TommyFleetwood1 for joining us as well. See you soon at Albany!

— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) November 9, 2022  
The announcement came two days after Woods was confirmed as a participant in the seventh edition of 'The Match' on December 10.

He will partner world number one Rory McIlroy against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in the exhibition.

Cameron Smith said he retains hope of featuring at the majors despite joining LIV Golf, as he labelled the lack of world ranking points on offer on the breakaway tour "unfair".

Smith, the current world number two, became the highest-ranked player to join the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit on Tuesday, when he was announced as one of six new players ahead of this week's event in Boston.

The Australian, who clinched his first major title when winning the Open at St Andrews in July, joined compatriot Marc Leishman, as well as Joaquin Niemann, Cameron Tringale, Harold Varner III and Anirban Lahiri in signing up to the Greg Norman-headed tour.

Having reportedly agreed a deal worth over $100million to sign for the LIV Series, a decision which will earn him an indefinite suspension from the PGA Tour, Smith believes barring the circuit's players from majors is unfair on fans. 

"I hope that these world ranking points will sort themselves out before my exemption is up. I think to the fans of major championship golf, it may be a little bit unfair on them," Smith said.

"I think, you know, majors are about having the best guys in the best field on the best golf courses and hopefully we can sort that out.

"I haven't resigned my membership on the PGA Tour. I think my life has definitely changed over the last couple of months after the Open, I've had a few phone calls with players. 

"It has been a little bit different, but this, for me, was the right decision. I think this is the future of golf. I think it's been the same for a very, very long time and needs to be stirred up a little bit."

Aged 29 and ranked second in the world, the signing of Smith arguably represents one of the greatest coups managed by LIV to date, and he is hopeful the new circuit will soon be able to award rankings points.

"I think it's really a shame that we're not getting world ranking points out here," he added.

"I think, you know, to have 48 of the best guys around the world playing and not to get world ranking points, I think is perhaps a little bit unfair."

Meanwhile, Smith admitted upon joining LIV that the circuit had made him "an offer I couldn't ignore", but says being able to enjoy more time at home and play in his own country were also key motivations.

"Yes, it was a business decision as well. But you know, there's so many positives to come out of this thing," Smith said.

"For me, I haven't been back in Australia for three years. To spend more time at home, you know, not miss it out on friends' and family's weddings and you know, a couple of my friends have had kids over the last four or five years that I still haven't met. So that's going to be a part of my life that I can't wait to get back."

Asked whether there was anything the PGA Tour could have done to prevent his switch, Smith added: "Not particularly, to be honest. I think for me the biggest attraction was spending more time at home, getting that part of my life back. 

"It's something that I've really missed. I think obviously the pandemic that we've had over the last couple of years didn't really help out."

Cameron Smith has withdrawn from this week's BMW Championship, the penultimate event of the 2021-22 PGA Tour season, amid reports he is set to defect to LIV Golf.

The Australian, who claimed his first major at The Open Championship last month at St Andrew's, has pulled out citing discomfort in his hip.

It means Smith, currently number three in the FedEx Cup rankings, will miss out on the final event before the season-concluding Tour Championship at East Lake.

"Unfortunately, Cam will be unable to compete in the BMW Championship this week in Wilmington," agent Bud Martin said. "He has been dealing with some on-and-off hip discomfort for several months and thought it best to rest this week in his pursuit of the FedExCup."

The Brisbane native struggled last week at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, where he was handed a two-stroke penalty for playing from the wrong place and, having challenged for the lead at one stage, finished tied for 13th.

Now, he will likely drop further away from the chance to dethrone Scottie Scheffler, particularly if the rumblings about a switch to the breakaway LIV Golf series prove well-founded.

Around this time a year ago, the pervasive narrative surrounding Tony Finau was that of a PGA Tour star who just couldn't find a way to close. Time and again, the Utah native would charge up weekend leaderboards only to come up short at the end. 

"They say a winner is just a loser that just kept on trying, and that's me to a T," he said. "How many times do I lose?"

The answer? Well, let's put it this way: he hasn't been losing much these days.

After winning just once in his first 188 career starts, Finau now finds himself on the heels of back-to-back wins at the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic. Add in his breakthrough victory in last season's FedEx Cup opener, and the Salt Lake City resident has found the winner's circle three times in his last 25 starts.

Suffice to say, the narrative has changed.

"I put myself in situations to win before, haven't been able to do it, but I'm very optimistic," Finau said. "I've always been that way. I've always had hope and faith that things will turn out if I just keep working hard and putting myself there. 

"I challenge myself every week to just push past what I feel like I'm capable of; by that I mean just my emotions, those hurdles that you face during a tournament. I proved to myself these last couple weeks that I've done that and won some golf tournaments. I'm proud of the way that I fought through adversity through my career and now I'm a back-to-back champion. That's what happens."

At the 3M Open, he erased a five-shot deficit with 11 holes to play after overnight leader Scott Piercy tripled the 14th hole. It was much smoother a week later, as the 32-year-old cruised to a five-shot triumph and a tournament record 26-under 262 total. 

Finau hit a career-best 66 greens in regulation in that second victory, which also marked the third-most by a winner on the PGA Tour since 1980. Aaron Wise and Hale Irwin matched that feat at the 2018 Byron Nelson and 1981 Sony Open, respectively, while Peter Jacobsen holds the record with 69 greens in regulation at the 1995 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Willie Wood hit 67 greens en route to the 1996 Sanderson Farms Championship.

His precision netted Finau a plus-4.65 stroke differential from the field average, his highest difference during an event on the PGA Tour. It barely edged out the career-best he set just a week prior at the 3M Open (plus-4.37) and safely beat his next-best marks of plus-3.70 (2021 St. Jude Championship) and plus-2.73, set at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, site of his first Tour victory.

Xander does it, too 

But Finau wasn't the only player making significant moves in July. Though his triumphs didn't come in consecutive weeks, Xander Schauffele also managed to find the winner's circle in back-to-back appearances.

After winning the Travelers Championship in late June, the former gold medallist travelled across the pond and did it all over again in his next start at the Scottish Open. He became the third player to pick up at least three wins this season (Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns are the others) and is one of three players to win this year in consecutive starts (Scheffler and Finau).

But how Schauffele did it may be the most impressive aspect. The San Diego native trailed by a whopping 11 strokes after the opening round, marking the largest 18-hole deficit overcome by a PGA Tour winner in a four-round event in the last 39 years. Seven other players rallied from 10-shot deficits – most recently Webb Simpson at the 2020 Phoenix Open – but no one overcame the odds that Schauffele did.

"Overall, I'm playing some of the best golf of my life and capitalising on playing really well," Schauffele said. "There's a lot of times [when] professionals play very well but don't get everything out of it, and I feel like I've been successful in getting the most out of my game."

Together, Schauffele and Finau became the fifth and six players to win back-to-back tournaments on Tour since the start of the 2016-17 season, joining Patrick Cantlay, Brendon Todd, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas.

Cam double-dips

Being able to call yourself The Players champion is one of the most prestigious honuors in golf. The biggest names in the sport have all done it, from Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods to Rory McIlroy.

But add in a victory at The Open Championship and you're in unprecedented territory.

That's exactly what Australian Cameron Smith did in July at golf's oldest championship, edging out McIlroy at St Andrews to win the Claret Jug. He became just the second player in history to win The Players and Open Championship in the same year, joining none other than Nicklaus. He, too, also won his major at the historic St Andrews after winning The Players earlier in 1978.

It wasn't Smith's only achievement that week. No winner had ever closed with a 64 at St Andrews before he did it, while his finishing score of 20-under 268 set a new Old Course record. It tied the lowest score to par in major championship history – Henrik Stenson shot 20 under at Royal Troon in 2016 – and his back-nine 30 was the lowest ever by an Open Championship winner.

"I got beaten by the better player this week," McIlroy said. "To go out and shoot 64 to win The Open Championship at St Andrews is a hell of a showing. Hats off to Cam."

Smith is the first Australian to win the Claret Jug since 1993 and the first to do it at St Andrews since Kel Nagle staved off Arnold Palmer in 1960.

"Those guys are great players. They weren't going to give it to me. I had to take it," Smith said. "It was a good thing that I was behind. My mindset would have been a touch different coming in, especially on that back nine, if I was ahead."

Cameron Smith may be swayed by the lucrative financial offer from the LIV Golf International Series, but must consider whether he will enjoy competing on the breakaway tour.

That is the message from former Ryder Cup captain Mark James, who acknowledged the financial benefits of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf but was unsure of the merits of a competition still in its infancy.

Smith secured his first major title at the historic 150th Open Championship last weekend, triumphing ahead of Cameron Young and Rory McIlroy on the picturesque Old Course at St Andrews.

While lauded for the blemish-free final round that ensured Open glory, speculation grew that Smith may become the next high-profile defector to LIV Golf, the tournament headed by Greg Norman.

Smith refused to comment on the matter as he celebrated at St Andrews, remaining non-committal on his future as he expressed his disappointment with the line of questioning following his Open victory.

Though James, a 32-time professional winner, appreciated the lucrative offers LIV Golf are making to secure the PGA Tour's prized assets, he warned Smith to think carefully about his future.

"I would imagine right now they're weighing up his contracts, weighing up what you'll get for playing the LIV Golf Tour and what you'll get for playing around the world and having all these contracts," James told Stats Perform.

"And I mean, yeah, they might pay him. They would have to pay him I would think 100 million to play LIV Golf Tour compared to winning the Open and having all those contracts, maybe more.

"I don't know, I'm a bit out of touch with the big money game these days. But that means you don't have to work the rest of your life, even at his age 100 million will go a long way.

"But he's going to be playing, is he going to be playing with his mind on the golf? Is he going to really enjoy it? I don't know.

"I think there's a lot of question marks over this tour. And it will be interesting to see what the outcome is."

Henrik Stenson relinquished his Ryder Cup captaincy after becoming the next big-name signing for LIV Golf, announced on Wednesday alongside Jason Kokrak and Charles Howell III.

The breakaway league already has the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, with every defector banned from playing on the PGA Tour as retaliation to their move away.

And James, who had a long career on the European Tour and has played on the US-based Champions Tour in senior golf, does not envisage LIV Golf succeeding, likening the tournaments to "exhibition events". 

"They've gone in extremely heavy-handedly LIV Golf," he added. "But then I suppose if they're trying to take players away from the two major tours, they have to because the two majors are so protective of their product.

"But I agree with the two main tours, I think they have to be and I think the two main tours are brilliant for golf, because they have a pyramid system on both tours where anyone who's any good will make it to the top. It is that simple.

"Whereas, if LIV Golf were in charge, then that would not be the case. We'll see if they're still talking at the end of the year. Maybe something can be thrashed out and both tours can end a little sooner and have some big jamboree at the end of the year for six, eight weeks for anyone who wants to play.

"Certain events might be better suited but LIV Golf seems to want to take over the whole thing. And I think those tournaments are not good for golf right now. They're basically exhibition events.

"People are getting paid crazy amounts of money and there's a lot of animosity between current tour players and the LIV Golf players. So it's not a great situation. And I don't think LIV Golf have handled it well. 

"I'm not sure Norman is a particularly good spokesman because they've taken him out in the press to a large extent, because he wasn't really voicing what Saudi wants someone to say.

"But, equally, I think that the pros from the tours who signed up with LIV Golf have not exactly been eloquent in defence of LIV Golf. So the whole thing, I think, is a little shambolic.

"But as I say, if you want to take golf by the scruff of the neck and make an impression on the main tour players, then maybe this is the only way to try and do it."

Newly crowned Open champion Cameron Smith said he was just "here to win golf tournaments" as he declined to say whether he could soon join the breakaway LIV Golf Invitational Series.

The Australian was asked about the prospect in a news conference after landing the first major of his career on Sunday, pipping Cameron Young by one shot and Rory McIlroy by two at St Andrews.

It remains to be seen whether Smith has been tempted by the prospect of signing up for the lucrative, Saudi-backed breakaway competition.

He was not open to giving a direct answer when asked whether there was truth behind rumours he could defect to LIV Golf.

"I just won the British Open, and you're asking about that. I think that's pretty not that good," Smith said.

When asked to answer the question one way or another, Smith replied: "I don't know, mate. My team around me worries about all that stuff. I'm here to win golf tournaments."

The 28-year-old would be joining the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood if he joins LIV Golf.

Big incentives are on offer for committing to play in the new series, along with hefty prize purses.

Critics of LIV Golf have claimed it is an attempt at "sportswashing" by the Saudi Arabia regime, attempting to improve the country's image amid allegations of human rights violations.

The PGA Tour and DP World Tour have come out in opposition to the series, as have a number of leading players, including Tiger Woods and McIlroy.

Smith's fellow Australian Greg Norman is CEO of LIV Golf.

Norman also happened to be the last Australian winner of the Open until Smith's sublime closing 64 at the home of golf saw him vault to the top of the leaderboard and lift the Claret Jug.

In a congratulatory Twitter message to Smith, Norman, the 1986 and 1993 Open winner, wrote: "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi! A spectacular final round mate. A triumph for you and for Australia as the first Australian to win in 29 years. You’re in good company."

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