Cameron Smith has more than seven million reasons to smile after out-shooting playing partner Phil Mickelson and the rest of the LIV Golf field to clinch his third title in the Saudi-backed tour. The Aussie star was a runaway winner in the LIV Golf Bedminster event in New Jersey as he claimed a dominant seven-shot victory to take home the $US4 million ($A6.16 million) winner's cheque.
Smith also pocketed an extra $US750,000 ($A1.15 million) after his team, Ripper GC, finished commanding 11-shot winners in the teams event, with a whopping 20-under total. The $A7.31 million windfall took Smith's season earnings to $US13.6 million ($A20.93 million), with this victory the Aussie's second in as many months.
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The 29-year-old's latest triumph was his seventh in the past 19 months and third on the Saudi-backed tour, following success at LIV Golf International Chicago in September and LIV Golf London last month. The 2022 British Open champion closed with a final-round three-under-par 68 to finish on 12-under, with Indian Anirban Lahiri (five-under) a distant runner-up after closing with a 70.
¡A celebrar! ⛳️
Victoria N°3 para Cameron Smith en el LIV Golf. 🇦🇺🏆 pic.twitter.com/TKtDFLtzYv
— Golf Channel LA (@GolfChannelLA) August 13, 2023
Smith rose as high as World No.2 in the rankings before making the jump to LIV Golf, where rankings points are not officially recognised. The Aussie has now dropped to No.8 in the world but his form would suggest he belongs higher in the world's pecking order.
Cameron Smith outshines playing partner Phil Mickelson
The Aussie's latest triumph came in the same final-round group as Phil Mickelson as Smith outclassed the five-time major winner in front of his golfing idol, Greg Norman. The Aussie icon was beaming with pride watching his compatriot go toe-to-toe with one the sport's all-time greats.
"Unreal," Norman said about Smith's victory. "It's good having a fellow Aussie there and one of the greatest golfers all time competing against you."
— LIV Golf (@livgolf_league) August 13, 2023
Congrats to Cameron Smith on his dominant victory at LIV golf Bendminster. He continues to show why he is one of the very best players in the world. pic.twitter.com/vaWYY1MCRy
— Tour Pro 🏌️♂️ (@OfficialTourPro) August 13, 2023
— Golf Australia ⛳️ (@GolfAust) August 13, 2023
Cam Smith thrilled for Aussie teammate after huge payday
Fellow Australian Marc Leishman (71) tied for seventh at two under, with Jed Morgan (66) 27th at three over and Matt Jones (70) 30th one stroke further back. "Yeah, that was a good day," Smith said before paying tribute to Morgan after the 23-year-old earned a life-changing $US945,000 ($A1.45 million) himself, following a five-under contribution on Sunday.
"We all know that Jed's got that in him and that's why he's on the team. He's one of the best young guys coming out of Australia and we want him on the Ripper's (team) for a long time, Smith added. "It's good to see him playing well because it's been a long season for him, but hopefully this kicks it on."
With three events remaining, Smith's victory vaulted the Queenslander to the top of the individual standings ahead of his title defence in Chicago next month. The Queenslander is gunning to be crowned 2023 champion - a feat that would see him pocket an extra $US18 million ($A27.7 million) bonus.
The final tournament of the LIV Golf season will be held in Miami from October 20-22. "Absolutely, that was the goal since the start of the year with at least a shot at it with one tournament to go," Smith said about his goal of becoming the 2023 champion.
"So ticking a box in that department this week. But we've got a couple of weeks left, so head down and keep the celebrating to Miami."
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