Feeling the good vibes after being given the green light to defend his British Open crown despite his move to LIV Golf, Cameron Smith hoisted three of his countrymen on his back in Miami to earn them an enormous $12m payday at the team final.
Smith and his “Punch” team, which includes Marc Leishman, Matt Jones and Wade Ormsby, were just one shot away from splitting a $25m cheque as Greg Norman’s breakaway tour dished out the massive cheques at Doral.
Having already secured a mind-blowing $25m cheque as the inaugural player of the year, two-time major champion Dustin Johnson added another $6 million as his cut after sinking the winning putt for his “4 Aces” team to win the inaugural team final.
Despite copping some criticism when he signed with LIV, Smith was adamant the tour Norman said was “changing the landscape of golf forever” would get “bigger and bigger” in 2023.
The Queenslander also wants to bring the momentum from his late season surge to Australia where he’ll try and win a maiden national open in December
“I’m really looking forward to getting home, playing the events down there. I haven’t won an Australian Open, so I’ll be trying to do that,” he said.
“The round out there today kind of gave me that momentum that I needed heading down there. Yeah, I can’t wait for next year. I think it’s going to be really exciting.
“I think LIV Golf is going to be bigger and better because of this event, and I can‘t wait for it to start.
Smith, the Punch captain and the only Aussie to win a LIV Golf event, was the standout individual player as four teams vied for the title.
His score of seven-under 65 was three shots better than anyone else on the course and five better than his next best teammate, Matt Jones.
Leishman and Ormsby both shot over par rounds that cruelled their team’s chances of taking out the final.
Smith’s stunning solo showing came after Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A that runs the Open Championship, declared they had no plans to ban anyone from LIV Golf and he was looking forward to seeing Smith defend his title at Royal Liverpool in 2023.
“We’ll go public in January-February with what we are going to do with regard to LIV golfers,” Slumbers said.
“But if you want a guide, go back to what I said in July. We’re not banning anyone. We are not going to betray 150 years of history and have the Open not be open. The name says it all.
“And that’s important. What we will do is ensure that there are appropriate pathways and ways to qualify. I’m looking forward to seeing Cam Smith tee up around 9.40am on the first day of the Open next year.
“The Open needs to set itself aside from what’s going in terms of disagreements and make sure we stay true to our principle, which is to have the best players in the world competing.”