Cameron Smith has credited better communication with his caddie for storming into the outright lead after day one at LIV Golf London, his last competitive outing before his title defence at the Open Championship in two weeks.

The Queenslander was sensational at Centurion Club, outside London, with an opening round of bogey-free 63 at the par 71 layout elevating him to eight under par.

Beginning his shotgun start at No.1, Smith picked up an early birdie before playing the last 10 holes in a blistering seven under.

“I feel like I’ve been on this kind of trend for a few months now; I had a really good shot there in LA and I just have to keep doing what I’m doing,” Smith said of last month’s US Open at Los Angeles Country Club, where he was outright fourth. It was a career-best US Open result.

Smith also earned a PGA Championship best result with a tie for ninth in May. Now, he’s on track for a second LIV victory but with one eye on Royal Liverpool later this month, where he’ll defend his 2022 Open Championship victory.

Knowing that momentous event is coming up, Smith and caddie Sam Pinfold have beefed up their communication on course. The pair were heard on the broadcast engaging in detailed discussions about shot choices and distances.

” I feel as though Sam and I worked really nice today, which is probably the first time in a long time where we really stuck it out and actually talked through some shots, and probably something that had kind of been a missing piece to the puzzle, and it was nice to figure that stuff out before another big tournament coming up,” Smith said.

“When you’re hitting it good, you’re so relaxed, you’re just hitting it good. You’re not necessarily thinking about what you’re actually trying to do. [You think], ‘There’s the pin and I’m just trying to hit it there.’ “Whereas when you’re hitting it good and you’re actually trying to hit a shot and fly it to a specific number [distance] — there was just a lot more of that chat going on before we hit the ball.”

After day one, Smith led countryman, close friend and Ripper GC teammate, Marc Leishman, by one shot. The former six-time PGA Tour winner Leishman fired a 64 to be seven under.

“I was happy to finally get a score on the board; it’s been a while [since] I played really well,” Leishman said.

Marc Leishman of Ripper GC hits his shot from the 13th tee during the first round of LIV Golf London at the Centurion Club on Friday, July 07, 2023 in Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf)

Leishman had a luggage mishap in which his suitcases didn’t arrive in Spain last week for the LIV event at Valderrama, but were also returned to his US house in Virginia Beach. Once the suitcase was again sent across the ditch this past weekend, the clothes arrived at Centurion Club one hole into Leishman’s round. He began his shotgun start at the 12th, and then changed clothes near the 13th tee.

“I finally got my shirt, my clothes,” Leishman said. “My clothes didn’t turn up in Spain. They turned up at my doorstep in Virginia Beach Sunday night, which was not much good to me because I was in London, so then it was sent over here. [My clothes] turned up after one hole, I changed shirts and went on to birdie six of the next seven holes. So I guess I might have to wear this one again tomorrow.”

Belgium’s Thomas Pieters was third at five under.