There was no shortage of drama or decent golf at the conclusion of the LIV Golf Boston event at The International and perhaps the addition of a 55th hole was all that was needed to amp up the volume on the disruptor Tour?
As it turned out the final day was pretty exciting, with Dustin Johnson vying with LIV newcomers Joaquin Niemann and Anirban Lahiri for the title in a playoff which Johnson won after holing a 35 foot eagle putt that would still be rolling if it hadn’t hit the hole!
And so it was that in addition to celebrating his team’s third consecutive victory, 4 Aces GC captain Johnson raised LIV Golf’s individual trophy for the first time.
Johnson, Lahiri and Niemann all finished regulation play at 15 under and the subsequent playoff was the first in either the individual or team competition in this inaugural LIV Golf season.
The former world No. 1 had chances to win previous LIV Golf events – he finished inside the top 5 in the previous two events and was playing in the final group for the third straight tournament. He was happy to finally get the job done individually in Boston while also moving to the top of the individual season-long point standings.
“I wanted to finally get my first victory out here,” said Johnson, who earned $4 million for the individual win and an additional $750,000 for his quarter share of the $3 million team prize. “I feel like I’ve had a really good chance to win every single week, just haven’t played as well on Sunday as I’d like to. But played really nicely today.”
Johnson’s winning putt had plenty of pace on it, and would’ve rolled several feet beyond the hole had it not bounced into the cup. Lahiri was in position to make a birdie, while Niemann had already made par.
“I felt like we had a really good read on it,” Johnson said. “I might have hit it a little harder than I wanted to, but as soon as I hit it, I’m like, whoa, and then it was on a good line, and I’m like, hit the hole, hit the hole, hit the hole, and it went in somehow. I think the hole is indented for sure.”
Johnson’s final-round 5-under 65 was one of three counting scores for 4 Aces GC to go along with Patrick Reed’s 66 and Talor Gooch’s 69.
After winning the previous two LIV Golf team competitions by a combined 15 strokes, Sunday’s team race was much tighter, with 4 Aces GC (32 under) winning by two shots over Crushers GC, while Majesticks GC claimed a tight battle for the third-place prize over Iron Heads GC and Torque GC.
Lahiri, playing for Crushers GC, shot a 6-under 64 and had a chance to reach 16 under with a brilliant second shot into the par-5 18th hole in regulation play, but his eagle putt lipped out.
“I knew I had to come in hot, both in terms of trying to contend and also for the team,” Lahiri said. “It was really nice to just buckle down on that back nine and play some golf. Really proud of the shots I hit. A little unlucky but sometimes it goes that way.”
Niemann, the 23-year-old from Chile who is ranked world No. 19, shot 66 while playing with Johnson and Gooch in the final group. He suffered his only bogey of the round at the par-4 14th, the most difficult hole this week. In the playoff, his errant drive forced him to lay up, and he was unable to convert a lengthy birdie putt.
“I did everything that I could,” Niemann said. “Hit a few good putts at the end but they didn’t go in. It’s the way it is. I think it’s going to pay me back one day.”
As well as those in the playioff, two big names fell just short in making the playoff at 14 under.
Former world No. 1 Lee Westwood shot the lowest round in any of the first four events with an 8-under 62 and this was with a bogey on two of his last three holes to leave him at 14 under par. “It’s a sickening way to finish, but I played good all day,” said the Majesticks GC captain, whose team finished in the top three for the third time this season.
New LIV Golf member Cameron Smith, the world No. 2 and reigning Open champion, shot 64 but also suffered a late bogey. “Really thought I was out of it after yesterday, but I played really solid today,” the Punch GC captain said. “Gave myself plenty of looks, which I needed to do.”