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4 Aces tops LIV event

DORAL (AFP) — American Dustin Johnson’s 4 Aces squad won the inaugural LIV Golf Series team championship at Trump National on Sunday to claim the $16 million top prize.
Johnson, who earned a reported $150 million by signing up to the Saudi-backed venture, pockets another $4 million as his share of the team prize money to add to the rewards he gained through winning the debut season’s individual title.

Between team prizes throughout the season and individual event wins, plus his $18 million bonus for claiming the year’s individual crown, Johnson ends the inaugural LIV campaign with an eye-watering $35 million in earnings.

“Personally, my season, yeah, you add up the numbers and it was great, but I played well — I didn’t play my best, so it always could be better, but that’s golf,” Johnson said.

“But I’m just happy that the 4 Aces just won this tournament. That’s all that matters,” he said after shooting a two under-par 70 on the Doral Blue Monster course.

Johnson’s all-American team — featuring Talor Gooch, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez — shot a combined 7-under 281, winning by a shot over Cameron Smith’s all-Australian Punch GC.

British Open champion Smith shot a superb 65 and jousted with Johnson until the death.

The winning team was sprayed by champagne on the final green on a day in which $34 million in prize money was distributed to the four teams in the final.

While the celebrations were genuine and the team format certainly generated enthusiasm from players and attracted a decent crowd to the South Florida course owned by former US President Donald Trump, the first LIV season has caused division within golf that shows no signs of ending.

Reports suggest LIV Golf is looking to add more top players to its lineup ahead of an expanded 14-event second season.

Johnson said LIV will go from strength to strength.

“Just look at what happened today,” he said.

“Obviously, yeah, it was a team effort, but coming down the 18th hole, it ended up coming down to me and Cam playing the 18th hole to see who wins the team championship.”

“You couldn’t have drawn it up any better, but I think that’s what LIV is. Look at all the fans. Look how much fun they have. I think this season went incredible and I think next season is going to be even better.”

With legal cases heading to courts, disputes over world ranking points and Ryder Cup eligibility issues for LIV players, the rancor in the golf world doesn’t look to soon fade, not to mention criticism over the financial backing of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund PIF over human rights issues in Saudi Arabia.

But on Sunday, LIV players were in a bullish mood and Perez used the occasion to make his feelings clear about criticism of the new circuit.

“All the pushback, all the negative comments, everything we’ve gotten, at this point, I really don’t care. I mean, I don’t care. I’m paid. I don’t give a damn,” Perez said.

“My team played unbelievable this year. I feel like I’m really part of something that I’ve never been part of, other than me and my caddie, we’ve just been just us our whole life.”

“To have these guys and their caddies and families and coaches and everybody, it’s just one big family now. I just couldn’t be any happier. It’s unbelievable.”

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