HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, England — British Open champion Cameron Smith overcame a pair of bogeys at the start to post a 4-under 67, giving him a three-shot lead at LIV Golf-London on Saturday.
Smith is playing his final event ahead of his British Open title defense in two weeks at Royal Liverpool. The Australian has yet to win this year.
Thomas Pieters, who joined LIV at the start of the season, had an even rougher time at Centurion Club. Along with a double bogey on the first hole, he dropped another shot at the seventh. But his birdie on the seventh was the start of three in a row, and Pieters shot 31 on the back nine to stay in the game with a 67.
Marc Leishman was slowed by back-to-back bogeys early on the back nine and shot 69. Leishman and Pieters were joined at 9-under 133 by Louis Oosthuizen, who was 9 under for his round with four holes to play and had to settle for a 63.
Smith was at 12-under 130 going into the third and final round. His last victory was the LIV event outside Chicago last September.
In the team competition, Smith’s Ripper Golf Club was at 23 under and led by one over Stinger, with Oosthuizen as the captain.
Smash has been in the news for the wrong reasons this week. The captain, PGA champion Brooks Koepka, took to the media to unload on teammate Matthew Wolff, criticizing him of quitting on rounds and not working. Wolff responded by saying he still was working on mental health and it was heartbreaking to hear Koepka’s criticism.
Koepka shot 66. Wolff’s two eagles were offset by four bogeys in his round of 69. Smash was in seventh place out of 12 teams.