Australia’s Cameron Smith has hilariously sledged Phil Mickelson for slow play after beating him 1 up in singles on day one at LIV Golf’s teams finale in Miami.
Mickelson’s tumultuous year, during which he became a central figure in Saudi-funded LIV Golf, came to an end Friday when reigning Open Championship winner Smith drained a seven-foot birdie putt on the 18th at Doral’s Blue Monster course to beat Mickelson and eliminate his team. Smith’s Punch GC advanced to the semifinals.
Fellow Australian Marc Leishman of Punch GC beat Matthew Wolff in a singles match. In the foursomes match, Bernd Wiesberger and Cameron Tringale of the “Hy Flyers” won a point. That left it to the other singles match between Smith and Mickelson.
Smith and Mickelson made plenty of pars for much of their front nine, which due to the shotgun start began on the par-3 ninth but the match came down to the par-5 eighth. Mickelson missed his 8-foot birdie putt, while Smith drained his seven-footer a 1-up win.
Mickelson was playing noticeably slow, talking extensively over every shot with brother and caddie Tim Mickelson. It did not go unnoticed by 29-year-old Smith.
“Yeah, it was a good match … I think Phil maybe had some gamesmanship in there a little bit. He seemed to take forever today,” Smith said with a laugh. “I think we were three or four holes behind. So that was a bit painful. But other than that, it was good.
“We both struck the ball good. I probably didn’t hole as many putts as I’d like, but I was able to get the job done there on the last hole.”
Earlier in the week, when Smith and Mickelson’s match was announced,
“The way Phil hits his driver around here, I think he’ll be dropping a few balls out there,” Smith said, throwing shade at Mickelson chose not to needle the Australian who won three PGA Tour events this year before joining LIV, then won LIV’s Chicago stop last month.Asked what Mickelson had to say to that sledge, the American responded, “I mean, the guy is the Champion Golfer of the Year; CGOTY,” Mickelson said. “There’s not much I can say. But I have won here [in 2009], just sayin’. Cam have you even played here at Doral?” Smith interjected, “20 years ago. I was two when Phil won around here.” Mickelson then responded, “I think you were at that clinic that I gave. It’s nice to see you were paying attention.”
Smith’s Punch GC were due to take on Sergio Garcia’s Fireballs, with the two major winners playing each other in singles match. Leishman was set to take on Carlos Ortiz in the other singles match, while Aussies Wade Ormsby and Matt Jones were taking on Eugenio Chacarra and Abraham Ancer.