Smith drops off pace in LIV Golf debut

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After a sizzling opening round of 64, Australia's Cameron Smith has shot a one-under 69 to be in a tie for eighth in his first LIV Golf Series event in Boston.

The British Open champion had an eagle on the par-5 closing hole for the second straight day, but this one only kept him in the game.

The Queenslander trails Talor Gooch by five shots heading into Sunday's third and final round after the American had a five-under 65 on a day of low scoring. Gooch enjoys a one-stroke lead over newcomer Joaquin Niemann.

Gooch was among the first players to sign up with the Saudi-funded league and has finished in the top 10 in all three of the series.

He is 12-under and will play the third and final round with Niemann and Dustin Johnson (63), who is at 10 under and has also has finished in the top 10 in all three LIV Golf events.

"I've been playing solid I feel like every week," Johnson, whose last victory was the Saudi International in February 2021, said.

"Each round I've felt like I'm doing the right things. Eventually it's all going to come together.

"The game is definitely in good form, and I like the direction it's heading in."

The most improved award goes to Sihwan Kim. He opened with an 87, including a 10 on the 16th hole, but Saturday was a different story. Kim was 24 shots better with a 63 to match the low round of the day, but is still last in the 48-man field.

Niemann, the 23-year-old from Chile, signed with LIV Golf this week after completing the Tour Championship in Atlanta. He will try to join Henrik Stenson (New Jersey) and Charl Schwartzel (London) as players winning their first LIV event.

Phil Mickelson ended his streak of nine consecutive rounds in LIV Golf -- and 13 overall including the US Open and British Open -- without breaking 70. He shot a 68 and was tied for 39th.

Marc Leishman (64) is tied for 14th at six under, while fellow Aussies Matt Jones (67) is four under, Jed Morgan (70) one over, and Wade Ormsby (72) four over the card.

With AP.