SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – Cameron Smith posted his fifth straight sub 70 round on the LIV Golf tour and will enter Sunday’s finale of the Chicago Invitational holding a two-shot advantage.
Highlighted by back-to-back closing birdies on Nos. 17 and 18, the captain of the all-Aussie Punch GC signed for a 4-under 68 to reach 10-under par, two clear of Dustin Johnson.
“He’s definitely one you want to beat for sure,” Smith said of Johnson. “He’s been one of the best players for the last 10, 15 years, so someone to go up against and someone to try and beat.”
Johnson, the LIV tour’s consistent player in its inaugural season, suffered his first over-par score of the 2022 campaign, shooting a 1-over 73. After opening with a 63, DJ started the day with a 3-shot lead but will now chase Smith after going 2 over without a birdie on his final 10 holes.
The good news for Johnson is that he’ll be in the lead group for the fourth consecutive event. That will give him an up-close view on what he needs to do to chase down Smith and post a second straight victory.
One further back was Smash GC’s Peter Uihlein, who posted a low-round 66 on Saturday amid difficult conditions.
“I want to have championship tests,” said Uihlein, whose best finish this season was T3 in London. “You don’t really kind of want to have these 25 under par shootouts.
“Good, tough courses is kind of what we enjoy playing.”
Cleeks CG’s Laurie Canter (68) and Charl Schwartzel (69) of Stinger were T4 on 6-under par, one shot ahead of a trio headlined by Crusher GC’s captain Bryson DeChambeau (70), alongside teammate Charles Howell III (71) and Lee Westwood (71), who captains Majesticks GC.
Rounding out the top-10 on the leaderboard was a logjam of four more players, one further back on 4-under par, including Punch GC’s Matt Jones (72), Louis Oosthuizen (71) of Stinger GC, Torque GC’s Joaquin Niemann (69) and Matthew Wolff (73) of the Hy Flyers GC.
Cameron Smith is just five rounds into his LIV Golf career, so he’s still trying to figure out how to balance the individual competition and the team component.
During Sunday’s final round at LIV Golf Invitational Chicago, the reigning Open Champion will get a crash course in the chase for two trophies.
“It’s a very unique situation, one that I’m probably not used to yet,” said Smith, who is 10 under through two rounds. “I find myself looking at the team score more than the individual score.”
Unfortunately for Smith, his 4-under score was the only one in the red for Team Punch (-4) as Matt Jones’ even-par 72 was the second score used on Saturday.
The all-Aussie team was 14-under par, one back of 4 Aces GC, who for the first time in 14 rounds didn’t use the score of Dustin Johnson (73). The three-time team champions relied on the scores of Patrick Reed (-3) and Pat Perez (-1) to reach 15-under par.
Smash GC, captained by Brooks Koepka (74), used the scores Peter Uihlein (-6) and Jason Kokrak (-4) to reach 13 under.
Stinger GC and the Majesticks GC were T4 and just two shots out of the money on 11-under par.
LIV Golf Invitational Chicago
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 2)
1. Cameron Smith -10 (-4)
2. Dustin Johnson -8 (+1)
3. Peter Uihlein -7 (-6)
4. Laurie Canter -6 (-4)
4. Charl Schwartzel -6 (-3)
6. Bryson DeChambeau -5 (-2)
6. Charles Howell III -5 (-1)
6. Lee Westwood -5 (-1)
9. Joaquin Niemann -4 (-3)
9. Louis Ooshthuizen -4 (-1)
9. Matt Jones -4 (E)
9. Matthew Wolff -4 (+1)
Top-5 Team Leaders
Pos-Team-To Par (Rd 1)
1. 4 ACES GC -15
R1: (Johnson -9, Gooch -2)
R2: (Reed -3, Perez -1)
2. PUNCH GC -14
R1: (Smith -6, Jones -4)
R2: (Smith -4, Jones E)
3. SMASH GC -13
R1: (B. Koepka -2, Uihlein -1)
R2: (Uihlein -6, Kokrak -4)
4. STINGER GC -11
R1: (Oosthuizen -3, Schwartzel -3)
R2: (Schwartzel -3, Oosthuizen -2)
4. MAJESTICKS GC -11
R1: (Stenson -4, Westwood -4)
R2: (Poulter -2, Westwood -1)
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