BEDMINSTER, N.J. – Last month in London, Cameron Smith won the individual title but his Ripper GC came up one stroke short of forcing a playoff.
A missed par putt on the final hole left Smith and his team with mixed feelings
The all-Australian quartet left nothing to chance Sunday at LIV Golf Bedminster. With Smith running away with the individual trophy and young Jediah Morgan having the most impressive round of his LIV career, the Rippers won their first-ever team title by 11 strokes, the biggest team margin of victory this season.
“I won a couple of weeks ago in London, and I wasn’t happy with the way that I won,” Smith said. “… I didn’t want the same thing to happen today.”
Starting the day with a four-shot lead, Smith overcame a shaky start and pulled away with a stretch of four birdies in five holes midway through his round. His 3-under 68 left him at 12 under as he won by seven strokes over Crusher GC’s Anirban Lahiri. Abraham Ancer, Patrick Reed and Dean Burmester tied for third at 4 under, with Ancer claiming the third-place points finish with the better final round.
Smith’s individual winning margin is the largest in LIV Golf history, besting the six-stroke victory by Bryson DeChambeau last week at Greenbrier. It also moved Smith into first place in the Individual Champion points standings. With two regular-season events left, Smith now has a 21-point lead over three-time winner Talor Gooch as he seeks the season-long title.
“It's something that I've worked for, something that was a goal of mine at the start of the year was to be up there with at least a chance for the last event,” Smith said, who won for the third time in 15 regular-season LIV starts dating back to last season.
While Smith has done plenty of celebrating since joining LIV Golf, his Ripper teammates were happy to join him atop the podium on Sunday for the first time.
“Just the satisfaction of being able to celebrate a win with some of your best mates in the world,” said Marc Leishman. “… We got close in London as a team, but it was a weird feeling on the 18th green.
“For us to pull ahead as a team and be able to celebrate on that 18th green an individual victory, a team victory, eight happy blokes – caddies, teams, everything – it was more than that. That's what LIV Golf is all about, that team side of it, and just celebrating together.”
Besides Smith’s 68, the key contribution for the Rippers on Sunday came from the 23-year-old Morgan, who bounced back from a second-round 78 to shoot 5-under 66, the low round of the day. Morgan had three birdies during a four-hole stretch on his first nine, then eagled the par-5 eighth and birdied the par-4 ninth late in his round.
“I was not very happy with myself after yesterday. To shoot 7 over and just kind of let myself down and obviously these guys down a bit, it annoyed me a little bit,” said Morgan, who spoke to his dad after Saturday’s round. “I just had to let some emotion out. To come back – I didn’t change anything today. I just played better.”
Said Matt Jones, whose 1-under 70 was the other contributing score Sunday: “I think all of us will say that we're very more than happy for Jed to be doing that because we all know what he can do. We all believe in what he can do.”
Although the Rippers are mathematically eliminated from claiming one of the top four spots in the team standings that receive byes, they will enter the final stretch of the 2023 season with plenty of momentum. Last year, they claimed second at the Team Championship.
“Today was awesome,” Morgan said. “I didn't look at the leaderboards all day, and then my caddie on the last hole just said, mate, we've got a 10-shot lead, and I was like, you're kidding. Yeah, it's been nice.”
Here are the standings and counting scores for Sunday’s final round of the team competition at LIV Golf Bedminster. The three best scores from each team count in every round for their total team score. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.
1. RIPPER GC (-20): Jediah Morgan 66, Cameron Smith 68, Matt Jones 70 (Rd. 3 score: -9)
2. CRUSHERS GC (-9): Bryson DeChambeau 68, Anirban Lahiri 70, Charles Howell III 71 (Rd. 3 score: -4)
3. STINGER GC (-9): Branden Grace 71, Dean Burmester 72, Charl Schwartzel 72 (Rd. 3 score: +2)
4. RANGEGOATS GC (-8): Harold Varner III 69, Thomas Pieters 71, Talor Gooch 72 (Rd. 3 score: -1)
5. HYFLYERS GC (-7): Brendan Steele 70, Cameron Tringale 71, James Piot 71 (Rd. 3 score: -1)
6. 4ACES GC (-1): Patrick Reed 71, Dustin Johnson 71, Pat Perez (Rd. 3 score: +2)
7. TORQUE GC (E): Joaquin Niemann 69, Mito Pereira 70, David Puig 71 (Rd. 3 score: -3)
8. FIREBALLS GC (E): Abraham Ancer 69, Eugenio Chacarra 73, Sergio Garcia 73 (Rd.3 score: +2)
9. CLEEKS GC (+3): Richard Bland 70, Graeme McDowell 70, Bernd Wiesberger 74 (Rd. 3 score: +1)
10. IRON HEADS GC (+11): Sihwan Kim 70, Kevin Na 73, Scott Vincent 76 (Rd. 3 score: +6)
11. SMASH GC (+15): Brooks Koepka 72, Chase Koepka 74, Jason Kokrak 74 (Rd. 3 score: +7)
12. MAJESTICKS GC (+16): Henrik Stenson 73, Laurie Canter 75, Ian Poulter 75 (Rd. 3 score: +10)