13 Aug 2023 | Professional golf |
Smith leads by four at Bedminster
by Tony Webeck
Cameron Smith has vowed to embrace the parochial New Jersey crowds after setting up a final day showdown with Phil Mickelson at LIV Golf Bedminster.
For the second straight day Smith had to conjure a recovery from an unusual position on his way to a round of 4-under 67 and at 9-under par has a four-stroke lead from Mickelson (67) and South African Dean Burmester (68).
A day after hitting driver off a cart path adjacent to a house, Smith found the compound housing portable toilets with a tee shot late in his round but was given free relief and continued on his way.
It was one of a number of saves that enabled the 2022 Open champion to separate himself from the field by day’s end.
A winner at LIV Golf London already this season, Smith now stands between Mickelson and his first LIV Golf victory and is ready for the atmosphere a pro-Phil crowd will bring for Sunday’s final round.
“I don't mind a rowdy crowd. I actually quite enjoy it,” said Smith, who had galleries in their thousands follow his every move en route to victory at last year’s Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland Golf Club.
“I think it's nice down the fairway, but once you're over the ball and you're trying to hit your shot, it's always just about committing to your shot and doing what you have to do to get it in there tight and keep making birdies.”
Adding extra incentive to Smith’s pursuit of a third career LIV Golf title is Ripper GC’s position on the team leaderboard.
Captain Cam, Marc Leishman (69) and Matt Jones (69) moved Ripper GC into a tie for first alongside Stinger GC through two rounds, Smith conceding that a team victory is driving each member of the squad.
“Collectively as a team we've all been trying to just work a little bit harder the last couple of months,” said Smith, Ripper GC’s only podium finish to date a second place finish at LIV Golf London.
“Not really do anything different, just put our heads down, and you can see it kind of flourishing there a little bit.
“Last week wasn't our greatest week, but it's good to see us at the top of the that leaderboard again, and it gives me motivation to go out there and shoot another low one tomorrow.”
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