Smith opens up a three-shot gap at LIV London

Mark McGowan

Cameron Smith (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Cameron Smith and his Ripper GC are one of four teams this LIV Golf League season that has yet to reach the podium. But the Australian lineup has an opportunity to end that drought at LIV Golf London – and perhaps even grab their first-ever team trophy.

The Rippers enter the final round at Centurion Club with a one-shot lead over the defending London champion Stinger GC, while Smith has a three-shot lead on the individual leaderboard. Smith already has one individual win in his LIV career, winning last season in Chicago. He would love to have company on the podium and sweep both titles on Sunday.

“In our group chat, we’ve said multiple times that we need to get up there and spray champagne over each other,” Smith said after his 4-under 67 moved him to 12 under. “I think that would be a pretty fun experience. Still work to be done on the individual side, but it would be nice to see us at the top of the leaderboard on the team side, as well.”


Smith and teammate Marc Leishman have handled the bulk of the contributions through the first two days, with Leishman among the group of pursuers tied for second at 9 under after shooting 69 on Saturday. Matt Jones contributed a 67 to match Smith’s round, and the fourth member of the team, Jediah Morgan, shot a 69 to match Leishman’s counting score.

“If we can look after the individual, play as well as we can, all shoot good scores, the team stuff will take care of itself,” Leishman said, who will play with his captain in the same group for the second consecutive round. “Hopefully I can make a bit of a run at Cam tomorrow and make things interesting.”

Leishman will have company in trying to chase down Smith, who will defend his Open Championship title in two weeks at Royal Liverpool. Also at 9 under is Stingers GC Captain Louis Oosthuizen and RangeGoats GC’s Thomas Pieters, with 4Aces GC’s Patrick Reed (-8) and Majesticks GC Co-Captain Henrik Stenson (-7) also lurking.

The team competition certainly promises to be interesting in the final round. The South African Stingers started the day eight shots off the lead but quickly moved up the leaderboard Saturday, with Oosthuizen and defending London individual champion Charl Schwartzel off to hot starts.

Oosthuizen was 7 under through his first 10 holes while Schwartzel was 7 under through his first 11. Dean Burmester was also 5 under through his first 14. When Oosthuizen eagled the par-5 13th, the Stingers had overtaken the Rippers for the lead.

“I went through a stretch there where I made a few birdies and an eagle, and then Dean and Charl probably had to go through the same,” Oosthuizen said. “It’s unbelievable how the leaderboards can change out here with three scores to count.”

Late in the day, the leaderboard flipped again, as the Stingers finished on tougher holes while Smith and Leishman had more scoring opportunities. Smith’s birdie on the par-5 18th to finish his round not only added to his individual lead but gave the Rippers the 36-hole team lead.

“It’s nice to see Leish and I at the top of the leaderboard,” Smith said. “I know the other two boys are trying their hardest out there to get their team score up, and hopefully we can go out there tomorrow and show them what we’re really made of.”

Graeme McDowell, who opened with a four-over 75 in round one that saw him end the day second-to-last, turned things around on day two, as the Portrush man beat his opening score by double figures.

Five birdies, an eagle and a solitary bogey saw McDowell shoot six-under and climb to a tie for 33rd at -2. The eagle came on the par-5 18th – his fifth – as he covered his opening five holes in -4.


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