Smith bags first LIV title

QUINN HARRIS/agence france-presse Cameron Smith outshines a star-studded field to win his first LIV Golf title in the Chicago Invitational.

CHICAGO (AFP) — Reigning British Open champion Cameron Smith of Australia won his first LIV Golf title on Sunday, holding off Dustin Johnson and Peter Uihlein down the stretch to win the Chicago Invitational.

The 29-year-old from Brisbane fired a three-under-par 69 to finish on 13-under 203 in the 54-hole shotgun start event at Rich Harvest Farms.

World number three Smith finished with back-to-back birdies, the last from 20 feet, to defeat two-time major winner Johnson and Uihlein by three strokes.

Nine weeks after capturing the Claret Jug at St. Andrews, Smith said he needed a victory to send a message to critics of his decision to jump from the PGA Tour to the Saudi-backed upstart series.

“I think I had to prove to myself and some other people that I’m a great player, that I’m out here to win golf tournaments,” Smith said.

LIV Golf’s record prize money has helped lure several big-name PGA defections, prompting the PGA to issue indefinite bans on former members and spark an antitrust lawsuit in the United States set for trial in 2024.

Smith’s departure was a big blow for the US PGA Tour, where he’d won the Tournament of Champions in January, The Players Championship in March, and his first major title in July at St. Andrews.

Smith added a $4 million LIV Golf top prize from a $25 million purse to a 2022 riches haul that includes $1.47 million for the Tournament of Champions win, $3.6 million at the Players, and $2.5 million at the Open.

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