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PGA Championship: Dustin Johnson or Cameron Smith winning would land PR blow

by Press room

RIATH AL-SAMARRAI: Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith have found form at just the right time for LIV’s rebel alliance… either winning the major this week will hit the PGA Tour hard

  • Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith impressed at LIV’s Tulsa event at weekend 
  • They have been identified as players who might land most significant PR blow 
  • DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news 

With ominous timing, two of the marquee names of LIV’s rebel alliance have awoken into strong form entering the week of the season’s second major at the US PGA Championship.

If the threats of Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed caused some unease for the traditionalists at The Masters last month, then there will be similar anxieties around the performances of Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith at the breakaway tour’s stop in Tulsa over the weekend.

That Johnson ultimately won his second LIV title in a play-off against Smith, The Open champion, and Branden Grace, would suggest they have acquired momentum at precisely the right moment. 

It was also telling that Koepka, who led through three rounds at The Masters, was in the top six.

Most questions around LIV’s suitability as a warm-up ground for the majors have largely dissipated since their successes at Augusta, and with that in mind, there will be increased fascination in what can be accomplished by Smith and Johnson on the East Course at Oak Hill, Rochester.

Dustin Johnson ultimately won his second LIV title in a play-off against Cameron Smith

The pair impressed at LIV Golf Tulsa last weekend as they geared up for second major of year

The pair impressed at LIV Golf Tulsa last weekend as they geared up for second major of year

As a pair, they have long been identified as the players who might land the most significant PR blow for their new employers in one of golf’s showpiece tournaments.

Prior to defecting, Smith was the world No. 2 and Johnson, 38, had the game in the not-so-distant past to demolish near enough anybody, so the fact they are coming in hot is worthy of note.

‘The game is in really good shape,’ said Johnson, who birdied the 18th at Cedar Ridge to force the play-off, and then did so again to win it at the first extra hole. He had earlier ridden out a triple-bogey at the 10th.

The two-time major winner, who was twice a runner up at the US PGA 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.’ 

It plays to the political mess of golf’s civil war that Johnson’s win saw him fall even further in the world rankings to 82nd. 

Phil Mickelson's showing at Augusta proved he still has the capacity to amaze at 52 years old

Phil Mickelson’s showing at Augusta proved he still has the capacity to amaze at 52 years old

It is rightly held up as the most misleading aspect of a flawed system, owing to LIV’s failure to date to secure official points for their events. 

Smith, meanwhile, is at No. 8 – the only rebel in the top 10 – and the leads the charge of 18 LIV golfers in Rochester, which includes England’s Paul Casey.

Mickelson, who won the US PGA in 2021 before missing last year’s tournament in the spectacular fallout of his move to Greg Norman’s circuit, was 45th out of 48 in Tulsa.

His showing at Augusta proved he still has the capacity to amaze at 52 years old, but his form is offering little evidence of a repeat this week.

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