LIV GOLF BEDMINSTER
Cam Smith cruises to another LIV Golf victory, sets sights on $18 million season-long prize
BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Cameron Smith is playing in a completely different league these days. That was obvious Sunday when the Australian was standing on the first tee at the LIV Golf Bedminster event, nursing a four-shot lead to start the final round. He was surrounded by an enormous entourage that included the league’s commissioner, Greg Norman, former President Donald Trump, his band of Secret Service agents and LIV officials while ‘Losing it’ by globally popular DJ Fisher blasted on speakers.
But his play, and standing within his new tour, are not too dissimilar to this time last year, when Smith had won three times for the PGA Tour season, including the Players Championship and the Open Championship. At the first event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs in Memphis last summer, Smith had a golden chance to ascend to World No. 1 when he entered the final round two shots off the lead. He could have positioned himself to win the 2022 FedEx Cup with three more solid results. An injury, and speculation he was leaving for a large, guaranteed-money contract on LIV took a toll and he finished 19th in the standings.
Fast forward to this year and Smith claimed a second LIV event for the season with a seven-shot victory at Trump Bedminster. Smith fired a three-under-par 68 to finish at 12 under, while India's Anirban Lahiri was second at five under. Mexico's Abraham Ancer, Patrick Reed and Dean Burmester shared third at four under.
The mullet-wearing Smith, who won LIV London last month, now leads LIV’s individual points standings. He has 170 points courtesy of claiming 40 in New Jersey, 21 points ahead of Talor Gooch, who has won three times this year. There are just three LIV events remaining in its sophomore season: in Chicago in late September, where Smith will be the defending champion, as well as a stop in Saudi Arabia before the finale at former PGA Tour host Doral in Miami.
The 29-year-old has set his sights on claiming LIV’s season-long individual title in South Florida in late October. It’s worth $18 million.
“I’ve been in the running a couple of times [in the FedEx] the last couple of years but I don't think I played as consistently [as I have on LIV this year],” Smith said, having finished in the top 10 in seven of his 11 LIV events. He also posted career-best finishes in the PGA Championship (T-9) and the U.S. Open (fourth).
“It's nice to be able to do that week in week out,” Smith said. “A goal at the start of the year was to be up there with at least a chance at the last event.”
Smith’s $4 million win Sunday brought his worldwide total prize money in 2023 to $15,248,846. He has claimed $13,611,667 on LIV and $1,637,179 across the four majors.
But money was far from his mind as he eyed a five-week rest, which followed five tournaments in six weeks including his Open defense at Royal Liverpool.
“Five weeks is a long time off,” he said. “I’ll put the clubs down for a couple of weeks and then get right back into it. Then we’re going back to Chicago where I won last year which is a nice feeling.”
Smith’s all-Australian LIV team, Ripper GC, which consists of Marc Leishman, Matt Jones and Jed Morgan, earned their maiden $3-million teams title, finishing at 20 under. Bryson DeChambeau's Crushers and South African team, Stinger GC, shared second 11 shots back.
Ripper GC dedicated its victory to the mother of Leishman’s long-time caddie, Matt Kelly, who had to return to Australia briefly following the passing of his mother, Glenda, earlier this month.
“It was a hard situation because we all loved Glenda,” said Leishman, a childhood friend of Kelly. “Just the lady she was and what she meant to so many people. I think we'd all agree that this one is for Glenda and the whole Kelly family.”