License picture” alt=”Cameron Smith exits a sand trap at the LIV Golf Team Championship Friday at Trump National Doral in Miami. Photo by Thom Baur/UPI | License picture” onclick=”st_ss_sh1();”/>
MIAMI, Oct. 28 (UPI) — Cameron Smith beat Phil Mickelson and Harold Varner III preceded Brooks Koepka in two of many intriguing matches in Friday’s LIV Golf Team Championship quarterfinals at Trump National Doral in Miami.
Thirty-two golfers were in action on the Blue Monster course. The inaugural season finale of the Saudi-funded series will continue until Sunday. The winning team will win $16 million, which will be divided into four.
Friday’s round began with a shotgun start from the tees, with eight teams competing in four head-to-head matchups. Each of these matchups consisted of three matches: two singles matches and one alternating shot foursome match.
The 16 players from the four teams eliminated on Friday still won $250,000 each. The four teams that qualified will face the Top 4 seeds, who received first-round byes, in the semi-finals.
“It was a good match,” Smith, the world’s No. 3 golfer, said of his match with Mickelson. “I think maybe Phil had some sense of the game in there.
“It seemed to take forever today. It was a little sore. … But I was able to get the job done on the last hole.”
Smith landed a clutch birdie putt to help Punch become the third team to advance to the semifinals. He beat Mickelson by one stroke in their singles match for his team’s second deciding point.
Smith then edged out Mickelson to secure No. 11-seeded Punch’s spot in the semi-finals.
Captain Ian Poulter and the No. 6-seeded Majesticks won their first head-to-head clash 3-0 against the No. 9 Ironheads to become the first team to advance to the semi-finals.
Poultry and Lee Westwood to beat Kevin Na and Sihwan Kim in respective singles matches to claim two points for Majesticks. Sam Horsfield and Henrick Stenson picked up another point with a victory over Sadom Kaewkanjana and Phachara Khongwatmai in foursomes.
Smash, commanded by Koepka, was the second team to qualify. Varner edged Koepka in their singles match, but Koepka’s teammate Peter Uihlein beat 12th-seeded James Piot of the Niblicks in the other singles match.
Chase Koepka and Jason Kokrak helped the No. 5 Smash earn another point with a foursome win over Turk Petit and Hudson Swafford.
No. 10 Cleeks beat No. 7 Torque for the final semi-final spot. Torque captain Joquinn Niemann defeated Shergo Al Kurdi in a singles match. Lauri Canter of Cleeks edged out Jediah Morgan in the other singles match to tie the score.
Captain Dustin Johnson — who won LIV Golf’s individual title and $18 million prize money — also helped his team of 4 Aces earn a first-round bye.
He picked Cleeks as his semi-final opponent for 4 Aces.
“All the teams are great and any team can win,” Johnson said. “I felt like it was our best option.”
Captain Bryson De Chambeau opted for his second-seeded Crushers to face Stinger in the semifinals.
Captain Sergio Garcia and the third-seeded Fireballs chose to face Punch in the semifinals.
Koepka and Smash will meet Majesticks on Saturday in Miami.
Saturday’s format will mirror that of the quarter-finals. Four teams will advance to Sunday’s final round.
The four teams eliminated on Saturday will each take home $3 million.
The semi-finals will begin at 12:15 p.m. EDT and will be streamed on LIVGolf.com, YouTube and Facebook. The final round will start at the same time on Friday and will be broadcast on the same platforms.
The second place team will win $8 million. Third and fourth place teams will receive $6 million and $4 million respectively.