Cameron Smith has banked the biggest cheque of his career, cruising to victory in the LIV Golf event in Chicago on Monday morning (AEST).
The 29-year-old, wearing his customary maroon shirt on the final day in tribute to his home state of Queensland, punched the air after sinking his final birdie putt to seal an eye-watering $US4 million ($5.95 million) payday. It was just the second event he’s played on the Saudi-backed breakaway tour.
It was Smith’s first win since his famous British Open win at St Andrews, which catapulted him to world No.2.
But his ranking is due to slide dramatically in the next 12 months, unless LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman can convince world rankings officials to grant his 54-hole tour official status.
Smith defected to LIV Golf in a reported $140 million deal last month, and the Herald revealed LIV Golf had given Smith equity in an all-Australian franchise, which he will run alongside Marc Leishman when it launches next year.
Having started the final round in Chicago two shots ahead of former US Masters champion Dustin Johnson, Smith fired a final round 69 for a three-shot win from Americans Johnson and Peter Uihlein (10 under).
Cameron Smith during the final round of the LIV Golf event in Chicago.Credit:Getty
“I think I had to prove to probably myself and some other people that I’m still a great player,” Smith said. “I’m still out here to win golf tournaments.
“I’m proud how I hung in there today. I probably didn’t have my best stuff for the first eight or nine holes, but I stuck it tough and made a few good putts coming in.
“[Johnson’s] probably the one in the group of players here that you look at and think he’s going to be pretty close to the top of the leaderboard every week. I hope he thinks the same about me and we can keep this going.”
Fellow Australians Matt Jones (four under), Wade Ormsby (four over) and Leishman (six over) were well down the leaderboard in the 48-man event in Chicago.
Phil Mickelson (six under), the oldest major winner in history and one of the main instigators in a host of defections from the PGA Tour, finally found some form with the day’s low round in a six under 66.
Smith kept to traditional golf dress code, wearing long pants, while the majority of his fellow LIV players took advantage of Norman’s relaxed rules to allow them to wear shorts during competition.
LIV Golf officials are due to finalise in the next fortnight where they’ll play an Australian event next year, due to be held in April after the the Masters.
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