lunes, 10 de julio de 2023

SMITH WINS INDIVIDUAL TITLE; 4ACES RALLY FOR TEAM WIN IN LIV GOLF LONDON

 

 


 

Ripper GC Captain Cameron Smith won the individual title by one stroke at LIV Golf London. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/LIV Golf)

 

 
 
ST ALBANS, England – Cameron Smith stood on the 18th green, put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes, trying to process the conflicting range of emotions following Sunday’s dramatic finish at LIV Golf London.
 
He was elated to win the individual title, his second victory in 13 regular season starts since joining LIV. It was a perfect way to build momentum entering his title defense in two weeks at the Open Championship.
 
Yet he was disappointed to have missed a 6-foot putt for par that would’ve forced the first team playoff in LIV Golf history. Instead, his bogey on the final hole at Centurion Club dropped his all-Australian Ripper GC into second, one shot behind 4Aces GC, this season’s points leaders that won their second team title of the season while having to sweat out Smith’s putt.
 
“Obviously thrilled about the individual win, but it would’ve been nice to get up there with the boys,” said Smith, who shot a final-round 68 for a winning score of 15 under. “It’s a bit of mixed emotions at the moment.”

               


 

4Aces GC won the team championship at LIV Golf London. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/LIV Golf)

 

Smith and teammate Marc Leishman, playing in the final group Sunday, were the last hope for the Rippers to catch the 4Aces, who rallied from four strokes down to start the day to take the lead at 34 under. The Rippers were at 33 under going into the final hole, the par-5 18th. Individually, Smith had a two-shot lead over the 4Aces’ Patrick Reed.
 
Smith was forced to lay up after his drive found the rough, but Leishman’s second shot was just off the back of the green. As Smith played his third shot, a gust of wind pushed his ball into the bunker. He blasted out to 6 feet. Leishman then completed his two-putt for birdie, leveling the team leaderboard while finishing in a tie for second individually with Reed.
 
Then the unexpected happened. After a brilliant week of putting – especially on Sunday as he holed more than 105 feet of putts in his first 10 holes – Smith’s par attempt slid past the hole. His individual win was sealed but the opportunity for the Rippers’ first team victory was lost.
 
“I really wanted Cam to make the one on the last there,” Leishman said. “He played great and putted great all week. To win the tournament and still walk off the green disappointed, I guess that’s what this is all about, the team format.”

 



Fans watched as the leading group made their way to the 18th green at the Centurion Club. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/LIV Golf)

 

The 4Aces certainly seem to have the formula for success in the team competition. Sunday’s win was their sixth regular-season team title going back to last season, and their second this season, having won in Adelaide. It also increases their lead in the team point standings to 39 points over Torque GC, the three-time tournament winners this year.
 
Reed provided the Aces with their lowest score of the day, a 6-under 65 that moved him to 14 under. The other two contributing scores belonged to Pat Perez, who shot a bogey-free 66, and captain Dustin Johnson with a 67 (with Peter Uihlein’s 68 not counting).
 
The 4Aces had started slowly on Friday, shooting just 3 under as a team, before shooting 31 under on the weekend. While they haven’t been as dominant as last season, they remain the team to beat through nine events. Sunday’s outcome was the latest evidence.
 
“We were seeing a lot of those teams getting too close to us at the top of that board,” Reed said. “I felt like as a team, we just weren’t really getting the numbers we wanted to. This week meant a lot for us to go out and make a statement.”
               


 

Patrick Reed of 4Aces GC finished second in the individual standings at LIV Golf London. (Photo by Charles Laberge/LIV Golf)

 

One of those statements involves the ability to finish off tournaments. Reed was a bogey-free 7 under on his first 11 holes. Perez was 4 under on his last 7 holes. Johnson supplied an eagle and a birdie in the back end of his round as the Aces kept cutting into the Rippers’ lead – and eventually overtaking them.
 
“That was the biggest thing,” Reed said. “We kept pressure on them.”
 
It came down to the last hole, with LIV Golf’s best putter in the spotlight. Six feet away from forcing LIV Golf’s first team playoff.
 
“Cam hasn’t missed one of those in his life, so I’m pretty shocked,” Perez said. “Nonetheless, it would’ve been cool. That would’ve been a separator again in golf, to have a team playoff. I think it would’ve been awesome.”
 
It didn’t work this time for Smith and his Rippers, but their second-place finish – the team’s best result – is something to build on.
 
“We showed that we’re a contender of the team stuff,” Smith said. “That’s where we want to be every week.”

 

TEAM COUNTING SCORES

Here are the standings and counting scores for Sunday’s final round of the team competition at LIV Golf London. The three best scores from each team count in every round for their total team score. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.
 
1. 4ACES GC (-34): Patrick Reed 65, Pat Perez 66, Dustin Johnson 67 (Rd. 3 score: -15)
 
2. RIPPER GC (-33): Marc Leishman 66, Cameron Smith 68, Jediah Morgan 69 (Rd. 3 score: -10)
 
3. STINGER GC (-29): Louis Oosthuizen 68, Branden Grace 69, Dean Burmester 69 (Rd. 3 score: -7)
 
4. RANGEGOATS GC (-26): Harold Varner III 67, Talor Gooch 68, Bubba Watson 71 (Rd. 3 score: -7)
 
5. MAJESTICKS GC (-24): Ian Poulter 66, Henrik Stenson 69, Laurie Canter 70 (Rd. 3 score: -8)
 
6. CLEEKS GC (-23): Richard Bland 66, Bernd Wiesberger 67, Graeme McDowell 69 (Rd. 3 score: -11)
 
7. CRUSHERS GC (-22): Anirban Lahiri 68, Bryson DeChambeau 68, Charles Howell III 71 (Rd. 3 score: -6)
 
8. FIREBALLS GC (-21): Eugenio Chacarra 67, Carlos Ortiz 67, Abraham Aner 69 (Rd. 3 score: -10)
 
9. IRON HEADS GC (-18): Scott Vincent 66, Danny Lee 69, Kevin Na 69 (Rd. 3 score: -9)
 
10. TORQUE GC (-17): Sebastian Munoz 65, Joaquin Niemann 69, Mito Pereira 69 (Rd. 3 score: -10)
 
11. SMASH GC (-17): Brooks Koepka 68, Jason Kokrak 70, Chase Koepka 72 (Rd. 3 score: -3)
 
12. HYFLYERS GC (-16): Cameron Tringale 68, Phil Mickelson 71, Brendan Steele 71 (Rd. 3 score: -3)

 

NOTES 

PEREZ COMES UP BIG: Pat Perez isn’t the most heavily decorated member of the 4Aces GC, especially with captain Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed having major credentials. But on Sunday, he raised his game when the team needed him most, contributing a 5-under 66 that was vital to the 4Aces’ win at LIV Golf London.
 
“We have guys that are always going to play well,” Perez said. “Being able to step up my game enough this year to actually help and contribute for one, it’s actually been satisfying for me. Last year, I didn’t do anything, which kind of sucks. I knew coming into the season I had to be a better player than I was, and I’ve worked hard at it to try to help a lot and contribute.”
 
Perez did not play in LIV Golf London last year, joining the league for the next event in Portland. He was part of the revamped lineup that won four consecutive times and ended the season winning the Team Championship.
 
He said this year’s two team victories at Adelaide and London have been more satisfying.
 
“The wins feel a little sweeter to me this year than last year,” he said.
 
SMITH EYES TITLE DEFENSE: Cameron Smith entered this week with seven consecutive worldwide results of top 12 or better, including top 10s in his last two major starts.
 
Now with Sunday’s victory at LIV Golf London, he has the perfect momentum builder going into his title defense in two weeks at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. The win was his first of 2023; his last victory was the Australian PGA Championship in November.
 
“It feels like forever,” Smith said. “Especially the way I’ve been playing the last couple months, I’ve been knocking on the door. It’s nice to get one out of the way. Hopefully it opens the floodgates a little bit.”
 
LEISHMAN’S BEST RESULT: Ripper GC veteran Marc Leishman started the day three shots behind teammate Cameron Smith. While he never caught Smith on the individual leaderboard, his 5-under 66 left him in a tie for second with Patrick Reed – his best finish since joining LIV Golf in the middle of last season.
 
“I really wanted to concentrate on the individual leaderboard because I knew if I had as good a score as I could, the team would take care of itself,” Leishman said. “It was really cool to be in the mix with both the individual and the team.”
 
MORGAN’S BIG SHOTS: Jediah Morgan wasn’t one of the counting scores for Ripper GC midway through Sunday’s round. But after a birdie at the par-5 ninth, he holed out for eagle at the par-4 10th, his 16th hole of the day. That made him a contributing score and it gave the Rippers a two-shot advantage at the time.
 
Morgan finished with a 2-under 69 as one of the three counting scores after not counting for the first two days.
 
“I think for a young fella like Jed, that’s the reason you have to hang in, not only for the team but for yourself,” said his captain, Cameron Smith. “You never know what’s going to happen on those last five or six holes. You could finish with five birdies and really make a difference. It’s nice for him to experience that. I kind of wish I had have been there for him, to be honest. It would’ve been cool to see.”
 
SMITH NOW SECOND: With his individual victory Sunday, Aussie Cameron Smith moves into second place behind three-time winner Talor Gooch in the season-long Individual Champion points race. Smith has 130 points to Gooch’s 137. Gooch finished 22nd in points in London.
 
With the victory, Smith also becomes just the second non-American to win an individual trophy this season, joining Tucson winner Danny Lee of New Zealand. Americans Gooch (3 wins), Charles Howell III, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Harold Varner III have the other individual wins.
 
PODIUM FINISHERS: With their second-place finish, Ripper GC becomes the ninth different team to finish on the podium this season. The only teams who have not produced a podium result in 2023 are HyFlyers GC, Majesticks GC and Cleeks GC.
 
The Majesticks, the local favorites in London with three English players on the roster, finished in fifth place on Sunday, matching their best finish of the season.

 

RD. 3 STAT LEADERS

Driving distance
– Dean Burmester, 340.6-yard average
 
Longest drive – Dean Burmester, 356.8 yards (4th hole)
 
Driving accuracy – Branden Grace, 95% (11 of 13)
 
Greens in regulation – Henrik Stenson, Harold Varner III, Sergio Garcia, 83% (15 of 18)
 
Scrambling – Scott Vincent (6 of 6), Sebastian Munoz (5 of 5), Pat Perez (4 of 4), 100%
 
Fewest putts – Ian Poulter, 21 putts
 
Most birdies – Patrick Reed, Marc Leishman, Ian Poulter, Eugenio Chacarra, Bernd Wiesberger, 7
 
Bogey-free rounds – Sebastian Munoz (65), Pat Perez (66)

 

 

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