March 24, 2023

Australia’s British Open champion Cameron Smith has hit out at critics who believed he would lose his competitive edge after signing a $140 million deal to join LIV golf after winning his first tournament in the rebel series last Sunday.

Smith recorded a come-by-behind win in just his second start on the lucrative Saudi Arabia-backed circuit with a three-shot triumph over Dustin Johnson and Peter Uihlein just outside Chicago.

Smith, one of 12 major champions in the 48-player field at Rich Harvest Farms, shot a three-under-par 69 in the final round of the 54-hole event on Sunday to reach 13 under and secure the $6 million first prize.

Smith earned more for his first LIFE win than he did for taking out the Players Championship earlier this year – which at the time was the richest tournament in golf

“I think I had to prove to myself and some other people that I’m still a great player, you know, that I’m still out here to win golf tournaments,” Smith said.

‘Proud of how I hung in there today. Didn’t really have my best stuff the first eight or nine holes but kept it tough and made a couple of good putts coming in. That was nice.’

The win demonstrates the riches on offer on the LIV tour, where Smith earned more for his Chicago victory than he did for winning the Players Championship in March – then the richest purse in the sport at $5.36 million.

The stage was set for a final round duel between two of the world’s best golfers, as overnight leader Smith began the day two strokes ahead of playing partner Johnson (70), who fell three strokes back after a bogey on the first hole.

Both players birdied the second hole, but Smith bogeyed the fourth and sixth holes as Johnson got within a stroke before the duo carded birdies at the par-five seventh.

Smith opened up a three-shot lead with a birdie on the par-four eighth, with Johnson carding the first of two consecutive bogeys to reach the turn-four and his hopes of becoming the first multiple winner in LIV Golf series almost ended.

Uihlein (69) got into the mix and was briefly one shot behind Smith, who cruised along the back nine until a bogey at the par-three 16th, but the Australian reached the 18th three shots clear after a birdie on the penultimate hole coupled with a late Uihlein bogey.

The Aussie shot a three-under-par 69 in the final round to add to his already incredible haul in what was easily his best competitive year

The highest-ranked player to join LIV Golf to date, Smith finished fourth in his debut two weeks ago in Boston, missing a three-way playoff by one stroke after bogeying his 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.

Although Johnson couldn’t catch Smith, he helped his 4 Aces teammates Patrick Reed, Talor Gooch and Pat Perez win the team competition as the team shared first place in the $3 million ($5.4m) event for the fourth straight event. .

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The final round was interrupted for a planned moment of silence observed across the venue in honor of Queen Elizabeth, whose image was shown on screens around the course.