It only took two LIV Golf events for Cameron Smith to return to winning ways, as the Australian star won the Chicago Invitational by three strokes, banking the $4 million ($A6m) prize for first place.
Smith, who recently joined the breakaway competition from the PGA Tour in a deal reportedly worth $140 million, took a three-stroke lead into the third and final day at Rich Harvest Farms.
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Despite the strong lead, Smith coughed it up thanks to a slow start.
A par on the first and third hole sandwiched a birdie on the second, before the 29-year-old bogeyed the fourth hole and left the door ajar for Dustin Johnson, who finished Day Two in second place.
Smith shot par on the fifth before another bogeying the sixth and saw his lead evaporate, as he dropped to Johnson’s score of -9.
But the Australian star quickly rebounded, firing back-to-back birdies on the seventh and eighth to regain the lead and leave Johnson in the rear-view mirror.
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A birdie on the 11th further pushed Smith away from the chasing pack, although a bogey on the 16th threatened to make things interesting.
Smith ensured that would not be the case and shot a birdie on the 17th to restore his three-stroke lead.
He put the icing on the cake with a birdie on the 18th to secure victory and finish 13-under for the tournament.
Speaking after his triumph, Smith admitted it was a crucial victory as a way of silencing some of his critics who felt he might lose some of his competitiveness in the new league.
“I think I had to prove to myself and some other people that I’m still a great player, I’m still out here to win golf tournaments,” Smith said.
“I’m proud of how I hung in there today. Didn’t have my best stuff for eight or nine holes, but stuck it touch and made a few good putts coming in. It was nice.”
A fast-finishing Peter Uihlein did his best to add some final spice into the contest and was behind by only two strokes with five holes to go, but it was to little avail.
Johnson was also unable to find any rhythm when he needed it most, bogeying the first hole followed by two more on the front nine to begin his day in frustrating fashion.
Although Johnson collected himself, it was not enough to catch Smith at the top of the table as he finished tied for second place with Uihlein on 10-under.