The Australian shot 3-under 68 to finish at 15 under, one stroke ahead of American Patrick Reed (65 on Sunday) and Smith’s Ripper Golf Club teammate Marc Leishman (66) of Australia.
Smith made three birdies (Nos. 2, 3 and 8) and one bogey (No. 5) on the front nine. On the back nine, birdies came at Nos. 10, 13 and the par-3 17th, but bogeys at No. 12 and at the 529-yard, par-5 finishing hole took away any cushion.
He said he was keeping an eye on the leaderboard.
“I love to know kind of what I have to do,” Smith said. “This course is so fiddly (complicated), it’s tough to play with a lead. You’re almost trying to place it in the fairway and place it on the green rather than just hitting your shots. It can get to you. I think it’s the best the putter was felt for a long time, and I think that definitely saved today’s round.”
Reed entered the day in fifth place at 8 under. His 4Aces GC won the team title at 34 under. Fellow Americans Pat Perez (9 under) and Dustin Johnson (10 under) rounded out the best three scores.
“I knew that I had to try to do something, not only to get myself closer to Cam but also just in case any of the other guys needed help throughout the round,” Reed said of the pursuit of the team title.
After one birdie, one bogey and seven pars on the front nine, Reed birdied Nos. 10-12, 14, 15 and 17 along with three pars.
“I was able to catch fire there on the back nine and make a lot of birdies there,” Reed said. “It’s just one of those things; once you see your guys making birdies, it pushes you a little harder to go out and make birdies, as well, and try to contribute. To be able to do that and to see how these guys played from really start to finish today was key.”
The Ripper team of Australians Smith, Leishman and Jediah Morgan (even) was second, just one stroke behind at 33 under after Smith missed his par putt at No. 18.
“Obviously thrilled about the individual win but it would have been nice to get up there with the boys,” Smith said of the team’s finish. “I hit a good putt, too, so yeah, it’s a bit of mixed emotions I think at the moment.”
Stinger GC – with scores from South Africans Louis Oosthuizen (12 under) Dean Burmester (7 under) and Branden Grace (6 under) – was third at 29 under.
Smith’s most recent LIV win was in September at the event near Chicago.
He said he will take a few days off in London before picking up the clubs again and heading to Hoylake and Royal Liverpool Golf Club on Saturday to prepare for the tournament on July 20-23.
“I wouldn’t say it really takes the pressure off,” Smith said of winning Sunday in his last tournament before the Open Championship. “I think it’s just nice to be playing good golf. There’s nothing worse going into a big golf tournament and you’re playing crappy golf.
“Like I’ve mentioned, there’s probably a few things to clean up if I want to contend in a couple of weeks’ time, but yeah, it’s still a big event,” he continued. “It’s still got all the biggest names there. It’s the Open Championship, so you want to do your best. There’s always that pressure. Just more of a confidence booster, I think, this weekend.”
Field Level Media