BEDMINSTER, N.J. – Cam Smith won the individual title on Sunday at LIV Golf Bedminster, while his Ripper GC squad also took home the team trophy. But there were plenty more news, notes and stats from the final round.
DECISIVE STRETCH FOR CAM & PHIL: With two bogeys in his first three holes, Cameron Smith’s four-shot lead was down to two, with HyFlyers GC Captain Phil Mickelson as his closest pursuer.
Smith birdied the par-4 sixth to move three shots ahead, then disaster struck Mickelson at the par-3 seventh.
Hoping to answer Smith’s birdie and apply pressure, he took an aggressive line toward the pin – and found the water with his tee shot. He reteed – and found the water again.
His third tee shot found land, but Mickelson couldn’t get up-and-down, as he suffered a quintuple-bogey 8 that knocked the 53-year-old out of contention for his first LIV individual title and first win of any kind since the 2021 PGA Championship.
“When you're a few behind and you want to make something happen, you kind of feel like you need to do it,” Smith said. “This golf course, the way it is, not only that hole but pretty much every hole around here, you need to be careful of what you're trying to do.
“I can understand how that happened, 100%. Phil is a competitor. He's one of the best golfers of all time. He hasn't been in the winner's circle for a couple of years, so I understand that want from him to make a statement, and I think it would have been a different story if that hole had been a little bit different.”
Smith walked off the seventh with a four-stroke lead over Abraham Ancer, then put the tournament away with birdies on his next three holes.
A TEARFUL PHONE CALL: Jediah Morgan said his phone call Saturday night with his father lasted 20 minutes and involved plenty of emotion, as the young Ripper star was disappointed after shooting 7-over 78.
“I wouldn't say I was angry or anything like that,” Morgan said. “I just threw a few tears at him to be honest. … He just helped me through it, and that's the same thing that he's done since I was a junior and same as my mother.”
The conversation worked, as Morgan shot the lowest round in the field on Sunday with a 5-under 66. His 27th place on the points leaderboard is his best result in the last six starts.
“For Jed to do it today, I don't think any of us were surprised,” said his veteran teammate, Marc Leishman. “Just really happy for him and proud of him.
“We all stayed in the same house. We saw what he was going through last night. We saw he was a little bit down. But everyone has their own way of going through things, and I think you have to know that about yourself, who to call, and he knew who to call, and it worked out for him and for us.”
LAHIRI’S ROLLERCOASTER WEEK: Anirban Lahiri shot an opening 3-over 74 on Friday, then shot 10 strokes lower on Saturday with a 7-under 64, the low round of the week. On Sunday, he produced a 1-under 70, managing two birdies late in his round to climb into solo second.
It’s Lahiri’s second runner-up finish of the season. He now moves into 15th in the season-long points standings.
BURMESTER’S BIRDIE FOR THIRD: In the tight team battle for the remaining podium spots behind the Rippers, Dean Burmester – playing in the final leaders group – knew his last two holes were vital for his Stinger GC.
His birdie on the 17th hole moved the Stingers into a tie for second with Crushers GC at 9 under. With the par-5 18th remaining for one of LIV Golf’s longest hitters, his chip for birdie from just off the fringe came up short.
As a result, Stinger finished third, losing the tiebreaker to the Crushers.
“I knew on 17 when I was standing over the putt that I wasn’t just doing it for me but for the team,” Burmester said. “I knew that put us on the podium. I was hoping to birdie the last but that’s how the cookie crumbles, right?”
For the Crushers and Stingers, it’s the second consecutive week that they’ve finished second and third, respectively, on the team leaderboard.
TEAM TROPHIES: With Sunday’s victory, Ripper GC became the seven different team to win a tournament this season and the eighth overall. That leaves HyFlyers GC, Majesticks GC, Iron Heads GC and Cleeks GC still looking to reach the top of the podium.
FIVE TEAMS FOR FOUR SPOTS: With two tournaments left in the regular season, just five teams have a mathematical spot of claiming one of the top four seeds that will receive first-round byes at the season-ending Team Championship in Miami. 4Aces GC remains No. 1, with Torque GC, Stinger GC and Crushers GC following as the top four. RangeGoats GC is in fifth place, but just three points out of fourth. All other teams will be in action on the first day of action in Miami.
Driving distance – Dean Burmester, 321.6-yard average
Longest drive – Joaquin Niemann, 329.5 yards (15th hole)
Driving accuracy – Abraham Ancer, Charles Howell III, Richard Bland, Sergio Garcia, 86% (12 of 14)
Greens in regulation – Charles Howell III, Richard Bland, Brendan Steele, 83% (15 of 18)
Scrambling – Anirban Lahiri, 100% (6 of 6)
Fewest putts – David Puig, 25 putts
Most birdies – Cameron Smith, Branden Grace, James Piot, Sergio Garcia, 5
Bogey-free rounds – None