SUGAR GROVE, Ill. (AP) – British Open champion Cameron Smith made his decision to leave the PGA Tour for LIV Golf on Sunday when he closed in with a 3-under-69 for a three-shot win at LIV Golf Invitational-Chicago.
Smith was only briefly threatened in the third and final round. One of the key moments was putting a 10 foot on the 13th hole, and neither Dustin Johnson nor Peter Oehlen could do enough to catch him.
Smith won $4 million from a $20 million purse for singles play.
“I think I had to prove to myself and others that I’m still a great player, and I’m still here to win golf tournaments,” Smith said. “I didn’t have my best, but I held on tight and did some punches.”
Johnson (70) and Uihlein (69) made a birdie on the 18th par-5 hole at Rich Harvest Farms and tied them up for the second, earning $1,812,500 each.
Johnson’s birdie enabled his team to win for the fourth consecutive time, which was an additional $750,000 for Johnson, Tallor Gotsch, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez. In the five events Johnson has played, he has now made just over $12.5 million.
Team Uihlein – Brooks Koepka being the captain – took second place, which was worth $375.00 per team member. With second place as an individual and a team, Uihlein raised nearly $2.2 million on Sunday.
Smith let his short game do the most damage. He made enough birdies in the front nine to stay ahead, and hit a flop shop to a foot on the 11 bar 5 for another bird.
Oehlen made a flyby on day 13 and looked as though he might be able to cut the difference to a single shot until Smith made his record.
Smith left no doubt in the end, hitting his over-water approach to 4 feet on the 17th to take a three-shot lead to the par-5 finish, then installing an 18-foot birdie that gave his team a tie for third place with Phil Mickelson’s team.
Mickelson had his best round since joining Saudi-funded LIV Golf with a score of 66 and tied for eighth, his first place in the top ten in five events.
Johnson is the only player from the 48-player course to finish in the top ten in every LIV Golf event. He was coming out of a playoff two weeks ago outside of Boston.
Smith was the No. 2 in the world when the 29-year-old Australian signed with LIV Golf after the end of the PGA Tour season, the highest-rated player he joined.
Johnson remains one of the hottest players to score, having been a two-time Grand Champion and has been #1 in the world for longer than any other player since Tiger Woods.
“He’s probably the one you look at that feels like he’s going to be on top of the leaderboard every week,” Smith said. “I hope he thinks the same, and I hope we can continue.”
Sergio Garcia was criticized last week for withdrawing from the BMW BGA Championship after one round and appearing on the sidelines of a football game in Alabama and Texas, he scored 67 and tied for fourth with Joaquin Nieman (68).
The next LIV Golf event in three weeks in Bangkok.
The series doesn’t return to America until the latest cast event at Trump Doral near Miami last weekend in October.
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