Golf: Johnson gets chance to take LIV earnings past US$17 million

4Aces captain Dustin Johnson during the semi-finals of the LIV Golf Invitational Team Championship at Trump National Doral Miami. PHOTO: AFP

DORAL, Florida – Dustin Johnson will have the chance to end the maiden season of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf with over US$17 million (S$24 million) in the bank after reaching Sunday’s final of the team championship at the Trump National Doral Miami.

The American tops the LIV Golf money rankings with US$13.6 million after winning the individual title and has a shot at another US$4 million if his 4Aces team claim the US$16 million prize at stake at the Blue Monster on Sunday, when the tournament switches from match-play format to stroke play with all players’ scores counting.

Joining the 4Aces in the final are Stinger, Smash and Punch.

Johnson will be relying on fellow Americans Talor Gooch, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez to be on form and deliver the trophy and prize money for his side, similarly to how they did in their semi-finals against the Cleeks.

Johnson won his match over Shergo Al Kurdi of Cleeks, but 4Aces needed a win by Perez and Gooch in foursomes to secure a 2-1 victory.

“It’s no different than any other tournament we play. Go out and try to shoot as low as we can,” said Johnson who insisted that the huge numbers on offer had no impact on play.

“For us, it’s all about the competition. We want to win the first championship of LIV Golf, and it’s anybody’s ball game. There are no favourites in my eyes tomorrow. It’s what four guys can play the best on the teams, obviously, because all four scores count. So everybody on your team has to play well.”

Johnson’s side are paired with Punch, an all-Australian team of Wade Ormsby, Marc Leishman and Matt Jones led by Cameron Smith, the British Open champion.

Punch defeated Fireballs 2-1 to reach the final, and Smith is in a confident mood as he feels his team may benefit from the “firm and fast” golf course.

“I think everyone is out to beat the 4 Aces tomorrow. They have been the one on top all year. So it will be nice to maybe get out there and show them someone else can win, personally,” he said Smith.

“I think the golf course has got better and better as the week’s gone on. I think typically Aussies like to play firm and fast golf courses and it’s starting to get a little bit like that. We’ll see what happens overnight.

Brooks Koepka’s all-American Smash side were dominant in their 3-0 rout of the Majesticks. Koepka defeated Ian Poulter 3 and 1, and Peter Uihlein bested Lee Westwood 4 and 2 before Jason Kokrak and Chase Koepka put the finishing touches on the sweep by defeating Henrik Stenson and Sam Horsfield 1 up in the foursomes match.

“Our whole team is playing really solid,” said Brooks Koepka, whose side are paired with South African outfit Stinger led by Louis Oosthuizen.

“Pleased and just see what happens tomorrow. You never know.” AFP, REUTERS

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