Cameron Smith Wins 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Chicago; 1st Since Leaving PGA Tour

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 18, 2022

SUGAR GROVE, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Team Captain Cameron Smith of Punch GC prepares to putt on the seventh green during Day Three of the LIV Golf Invitational - Chicago at Rich Harvest Farms on September 18, 2022 in Sugar Grove, Illinois. (Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via Getty Images

Cameron Smith has his first win on the controversial LIV Golf circuit. It only took him two tries.

The star golfer shot a three-under 69 in Sunday's final round to finish 13 under for the tournament, besting Dustin Johnson and Peter Uihlein by three strokes apiece at the LIV Golf Invitational-Chicago.

Johnson's 4 Aces GC won the team event at 24 under, beating Smash GC by just one stroke.

Seeing Smith win so soon in his LIV journey is no surprise, seeing as he won the British Open and is ranked No. 3 in the official World Golf Rankings. He did look a bit shaky at times on Sunday, especially after bogeys on Nos. 4 and 5, though five birdies from there helped solidify his lead for good.

LIV Golf @LIVGolfInv

NVM 😬 Cam Smith retakes the lead<br><br>πŸ“Ί<a href="https://t.co/BrRKpCqGX5">https://t.co/BrRKpCqGX5</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LIVGolf?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LIVGolf</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LIVGolfChicago?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LIVGolfChicago</a> <a href="https://t.co/WKtcLqWGdf">pic.twitter.com/WKtcLqWGdf</a>

LIV Golf @LIVGolfInv

Extending his lead 😀<br><br>πŸ“Ί<a href="https://t.co/NBTxcCJHoj">https://t.co/NBTxcCJHoj</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LIVGolf?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LIVGolf</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LIVGolfChicago?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LIVGolfChicago</a> <a href="https://t.co/EZTpURwKQF">pic.twitter.com/EZTpURwKQF</a>

LIV Golf @LIVGolfInv

WINNER WINNER πŸ†<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LIVGolf?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LIVGolf</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LIVGolfChicago?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LIVGolfChicago</a> <a href="https://t.co/utkNDnqYEP">pic.twitter.com/utkNDnqYEP</a>

"I think I have to prove to myself, and some other people, that I'm still a great player," Smith said after his victory. "I'm still out here to win golf tournaments. Proud of how I hung in there today, didn't really have my best stuff I think, the first eight or nine holes. But stuck it tough and made a few good putts coming in, it was nice."

LIV Golf @LIVGolfInv

πŸ—£ from the Winner<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LIVGolf?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LIVGolf</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LIVGolfChicago?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LIVGolfChicago</a> <a href="https://t.co/4mzZEHpXKE">pic.twitter.com/4mzZEHpXKE</a>

One of the critiques against players who defected to the LIV Golf breakaway league is that they were chasing a big payday rather than the trophies, prestige and competition of the PGA Tour, a narrative that Smith seemed to be referencing in his remarks.

A number of PGA Tour players have been outspoken against LIV Golf for a number of reasons, from the accusations of sportswashing aimed at the Saudi-backed league to the fact that the huge sums of money LIV Golf has promised its players has fractured the golf world between competing entities.

"I have always said I play for trophies, not for money," Shane Lowry told reporters last week. "That's why I didn't entertain it, to be honest. The reason I have never even contemplated it is I don't think it is good for the game."

But a number of high-profile players, including Smith, followed the money. And he earned a lot of it Sunday, with his victory worth at least $4 million.

Smith and Johnson are undoubtedly two of the better players in the world. That has the possibility to create an interesting rivalry between the pair, even if they won't have the chance to sharpen their skills against the broader field of talented players the PGA Tour offers.