BANGKOK: LIV Golf Invitational Chicago champion Cameron Smith is eager to bring the tournament series to new international audiences as it prepares to host high-profile debuts in Thailand and Saudi Arabia next month.
The Australian emerged victorious at Rich Harvest Farms this past weekend, carding a three-under final round of 69 for a 13-under total score and a $4 million prize as individual champion in only his second start since joining the circuit.
The 2022 Open Champion finished three shots ahead of Peter Uihlein and Dustin Johnson, the latter taking home the individual title on Sept. 2-4 at the LIV Golf Invitational Boston. Johnson, the current leader in LIV Golf’s individual point standings, and his team, 4 Aces GC, have also won four consecutive team trophies in LIV Golf’s new team format for this year’s eight-event invitational series.
LIV Golf’s June debut in London was followed by four consecutive events in the US. The series will break new ground at the new Stonehill venue in the northern suburbs of Bangkok Oct. 7-9, before traveling to Jeddah a week later.
Reflecting on the opportunity ahead to play in back-to-back international tournaments, the 29-year-old Smith said: “I think it is fantastic. That’s one of the reasons why I came over here, is to play golf around the world.
“I think my time when I was a young professional over in Asia are some of the best times of my life. Traveling with good friends and playing really good tournaments was something I will never forget, and I’m really looking forward and really excited for what this tour is going to bring to the golf world.”
Smith, who finished just off the podium in his first LIV Golf event earlier this month, has been impressed with the “supercharged golf” and electric atmosphere delivered at LIV Golf tournaments.
LIV Golf features a fan-friendly format in which events are played over three days and feature shotgun starts, a 48-man field battling for both team and individual titles, and on-course music adding to a lively environment for players and fans alike.
Fun spectator activations within the events, such as the opportunity to receive a Smith-style mullet haircut to raise money for charity, are also bringing something different to the world of golf.
“It’s really cool. It’s something that I’ve gotten used to over the last couple of weeks, and I can’t wait to keep this going. It’s unreal out here. I love the energy. Everyone is really engaged and everyone is really watching what you are doing. It’s awesome,” Smith said.
“I think the music out on the golf course and on the range is something that I really enjoy. I think everyone out there really enjoys it as well. I feel like the fans are closer to you and they are probably a little bit louder on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, but I love it. The atmosphere is perfect.”
Smith is not the only player embracing the new on-course vibe this season. The victorious 4 Aces team of Johnson, Patrick Reed, Pat Perez and Talor Gooch has thrived in the upbeat atmosphere. In Chicago, the team earned its fourth consecutive team trophy thanks to Reed’s final-round 68 — including two chip-ins for eagle and birdie — a 69 from Perez, and a birdie putt for 70 from captain Johnson on the last hole. Their final score of -24 overall placed them one ahead of the Smash GC team of Uihlein, four-time major winner Brooks Koepka, his brother Chase and Jason Kokrak.
The 4 Aces praised the fans for the atmosphere they have brought to the tournaments throughout the season, with Johnson labelling the supporters “unbelievable.”
“The fans have been amazing at every event,” Perez said. “They are behind us, they’re for it. They get to see top players every day, and you can see the battle of Cam (Smith) and DJ (Johnson) and Peter (Uihlein) today. You’re getting top players to compete every day. It is incredible, and the fan support has been amazing out there every week.”