Cameron Smith proved too good for the course at LIV Golf Chicago when the Australian scored a three-stroke win for his first triumph on the new tour.
Smith, the reigning Open and Players champion, recorded three under 69s on his third trip around Rich Harvest Farms, with six birdies and three bogeys that saw him finish at 13 under overall.
He started his round wobbly, with two bogeys in his first six holes, but stopped along the stretch to fend off any late drama. Smith has been birding his last two holes and crowned the victory with a long range putt, living up to his reputation as arguably the best putter in the world.
Smith pocketed $ 4 million, but during his interview after stepping off the 18th green he said this week it was all about proving how good he is no matter where he is playing.
“I think I have to prove to myself and other people that I’m a great player and I’m still here to win golf tournaments,” Smith said.
“I’m proud of how I stayed there today, I didn’t have my best things for the first eight or nine holes, but I held out and made some good putts coming up – it was good.”
Smith dismissed a late push from Dustin Johnson, who finished second at 10 under, and said he hopes the two of them can build a friendly rivalry like the top two LIV players.
“I think so, it’s probably the one in the group of players here that you look at and you think will be near the top of the leaderboard every week,” Smith said. “I hope you think the same of me, and I hope I can continue like this.”
While Johnson fell short in the individual game, he converted a crucial bird in the last hole to secure the fourth consecutive team title for 4 Aces GC, beating Smash GC, who could count on the other tied player for the second place. Peter Uihlein.
“It’s cool, obviously this was really close and it came all the way to the wire,” Johnson said. “I knew we were one on Peter [Uihlein]’s team, so I needed to equalize or beat him on the last hole, and we both had some nice ups and downs.
“It’s great to get another team to win, but a little disappointed with the way I played today and yesterday.”
Despite 4 Aces GCs having won overall, only two of their four members finished below par. Johnson led the way, with Patrick Reed five down, Pat Perez tied and Talor Gooch three up.
Smith also received little favor in this regard from his teammates, with Marc Leishman finishing tied last with six more, while Wade Ormsby had four more to relegate Punch GC to fourth in the team standings. At least Matt Jones contributed positively, registering four unders for the tournament.
Sergio Garcia and Joaquin Niemann completed the individual top five with eight unders, Stinger GC teammates Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel drew sixth to seven unders, and Phil Mickelson took his first place in the tour’s top 10 while he drew with Bryson DeChambeau for eighth place at six under, in a group of four on that score.