At LIV Bedminster, Cameron Smith storms to a four-shot lead as Phil Mickelson starts to surge up the leaderboard


Cameron Smith

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith continued his red-hot run on Day Two of LIV Bedminster at Trump National

On Day Two at LIV Bedminster, Cameron Smith kept up his scorching form as Phil Mickelson put his off-course issues behind him and climbed the top.

Smith maintained his one-shot lead and increased it to four strokes as he plowed through Trump National Bedminster during the second round on Saturday, after a near-faultless opening five-under on Friday.

With a double bogey at three in round two, the Australian got off to a shaky start. However, a birdie at six got him back on track. 

After that, he had six more birdies, with the par-three 14th hole accounting for his lone bogey.

At hole 17, his advantage seemed to be in jeopardy when his errant tee ball brushed up against some railing. But he managed to save par with the aid of a drop.

Smith jokingly said that he was always able to make spectacular recovery shots because he "managed to hit a terrible shot to get there" after his round.

I do like it, he said after the round. I like using various lies while playing and making outrageous shots. Whatever the case, I've always liked being creative, and I believe it brings out the best in me.

With a four-under 67 on Saturday, Mickelson, meanwhile, had a surge and gave himself a chance to end his LIV Golf drought in Sunday's final round. 

The 53-year-old, who has been one of the breakaway's most vocal backers since it first appeared on the scene in June, is tied for second with Dean Burmester and is four seconds behind Smith.

Except for the 14th hole, Mickelson carded five birdies while attempting to capture his first LIV Golf victory.

He started his round by bringing his positive attitude from his performance in round one to Saturday and beginning Day Two with a birdie. 

After the round, Smith accepted Mickelson's challenge, saying: "I think it's always good to have someone pushing you." The other two people in my group may have performed well enough to encourage me.

But it was never about hitting the center of the green and two-putting; it was always about scoring birdies. 

Cameron Smith
Aussie golfer Cameron Smith (Getty)

"Having someone there to push you is nice, especially when you're playing well and hitting your irons well,"

The lefty made another at the second to put himself in contention after beginning the match on the 18th with LIV's typical shotgun start. More came at holes eight, eleven, and twelve as the six-time major champion climbed the leaderboard to the delight of the crowd at Trump National Bedminster.

Despite having won 45 times on the PGA Tour, Mickelson claimed he would be anxious to play Sunday. 

I haven't won since the PGA in '21, so it's been a while. I would want to go back into that feeling of having a chance to win and having each shot bring about that pressure.

Yes, I'm sure I'll feel the nervousness. That is why we still want to play, or at least I still want to play because I still feel anxious whenever I get the opportunity. I enjoy the challenge of competing and attempting to accomplish that.

His ability to execute despite the backdrop buzz around his suspected gambling caught some off guard. 

On Thursday, Billy Walters, Mickelson's longtime betting companion, accused him of losing about $100 million in gambling over the previous three decades while wagering over $1 billion. 

The billionaire from Las Vegas also said that Mickelson attempted to bet $400,000 on his own US squad to win the Ryder Cup in 2012, which prompted Rory McIlroy to make a crude jab at the main LIV defector. 

But it's evident that it hasn't diminished Mickelson's motivation; if anything, it could have increased it.

Burmester scored a three-under 68 to tie for second place overall with Mickelson at five under par. 

Patrick Reed, Anirban Lahiri, and Bubba Watson tie for fourth place at four under par for the competition.


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