Australian British Open champion Cameron Smith has won his first LIV Golf claimed victory in just his second start at the lucrative Saudi Arabia-backed circuit with a three-shot victory over Dustin Johnson and Peter Whelein near Chicago.
Smith, one of 12 major champions in the field of 48 players at Rich Harvest Farms, shot a three-under 69 in the final round of the 54-hole tournament on Sunday to reach 13 under and secure $4 million ($6 million). ) first prize.
“I think I needed to prove to myself and other people that I’m still a great player, you know I’m still here to win golf tournaments,” Smith said.
“Proud of the way I hung in there today. I didn’t have my best stuff the first eight or nine holes, but I hung in there and hit some good shots. It was nice.”
The stage was set for a final-round showdown between two of golf’s greatest players as leader Smith began the day two shots clear of playing partner Johnson (70), who trailed by three strokes after hitting the first hole.
Both players bogeyed the second hole, but Smith bogeyed the fourth and sixth as Johnson came within a shot before the duo birdied the par-5 seventh.
Smith opened up a three-shot lead with a birdie on the par-four eighth, where Johnson made the first of two consecutive bogeys to reach the fourth move and his hopes of becoming the first multiple winner in the LIV Golf Series were all but dashed.
Willane (69) got into the mix and briefly trailed Smith by one stroke as he walked the back nine until he bogeyed the par-three 16th hole, but the Australian reached the 18th by three strokes after birdieing the penultimate hole in combinations with late Uihlein scarecrow.
Smith is the highest-ranked player to join LIV Golf to date and tied for fourth in his debut two weeks ago in Boston, where he missed the three-man playoff by one stroke after bogeying the penultimate hole.
Countrymen Matt Jones (72) finished four under, Jed Morgan (71) and Wade Ormsby (72) four over and Marc Leishman (78) six over to come home in last place.
While Johnson was unable to catch Smith, he helped his 4 Aces teammates Patrick Reed, Taylor Gooch and Pat Perez win the tag team event as the team shared US$3 million ($5.4 million) for first place in the fourth competition in a row.
The final round was interrupted for a scheduled minute’s silence, which was observed throughout the venue in honor of Queen Elizabeth, whose image was shown on screens around the course.