RIATH AL-SAMARRAI: Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith found form at just the right time for LIV’s rebel alliance… either of the stars winning the major this week will hit the PGA Tour hard
- Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith impressed at LIV’s Tulsa event this weekend
- They have been identified as players likely to land the biggest PR hit
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With ominous timing, two of the marquee names in LIV’s rebel alliance woke up in fine form as they entered the week of the season’s second major at the US PGA Championship.
While threats from Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed caused some unease for traditionalists at the Masters last month, there will be similar concerns around the performances of Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith during the tour stop in Tulsa. this week-end.
That Johnson ultimately won his second LIV title in a play-off against Open champion Smith and Branden Grace would suggest they gained momentum at the right time.
It was also telling that Koepka, who led three rounds at the Masters, was in the top six.
Most questions about LIV’s suitability as a Majors warm-up ground have largely dissipated since their Augusta successes, and with that in mind, there will be heightened fascination with what can be accomplished by Smith and Johnson. on the East Course at Oak Hill. , Rochester.
Dustin Johnson finally won his second LIV title in a play-off against Cameron Smith
The pair impressed at LIV Golf Tulsa last weekend as they prepared for the second major of the year
As a duo, they have long been identified as the players likely to land the biggest publicity stunt for their new employers at one of golf’s premier tournaments.
Prior to defecting, Smith was world No. 2 and Johnson, 38, had the game in the not-too-distant past to demolish close enough to anyone, so the fact that they’re coming in hot is worth noting.
“The game is in really good shape,” said Johnson, who birdied on the 18th at Cedar Ridge to force the play-off, then did it again to earn it on the first extra hole. He had already released a triple bogey in the 10th.
The two-time major winner, who was a two-time US PGA runner-up in 2019 and 2020, added: “I feel like I’m doing everything really well right now.”
“I’m really looking forward to next week, obviously get up there and get out there.”
It plays on the political mess of Golf’s Civil War that Johnson’s win dropped him even further down the world rankings to 82nd.
Phil Mickelson’s Augusta show proved he still has the ability to amaze at 52
It’s rightly touted as the most misleading aspect of a flawed system, due to LIV’s inability to date to earn official points for their events.
Smith, meanwhile, is at No. 8 – the only rebel in the top 10 – and leads the charge of 18 LIV golfers in Rochester, including England’s Paul Casey.
Mickelson, who won the US PGA in 2021 before missing last year’s tournament in the dramatic fallout from his time on the Greg Norman Tour, was 45th of 48 at Tulsa.
His Augusta appearance proved he still has the ability to amaze at 52, but his form offers little evidence of a repeat this week.