SMASH GC SOARS TO TEAM TITLE IN VEGAS
Las Vegas was a smashing success for Smash Golf Club.
What started as a tight leaderboard on Saturday ended with Smash GC stiff-arming the field in the city hosting the Super Bowl. The team combined to shoot 10 under on the day to run away with the team title and finish 33 under for the week. To put Smash GC’s final-round performance into perspective, the team trailed leader 4Aces GC by three shots entering the final round, and 4Aces GC finished seven shots back in second place.
“We'll have some fun, no doubt about that,” Captain Brooks Koepka said when asked how the team would celebrate. “We're in a great spot for it.”
Smash GC finished eighth in the final team standings last season, and its highest team finish was second at LIV Golf Orlando in early April. It was the team’s only podium finish in 2023.
The story of the day was Graeme McDowell, who is playing in only his second event with his new team. McDowell, who wasn’t pleased with his overall performance last season, shot a bogey-free final-round 5-under 65. He started the week hot with a 4-under 66 and shot even par in Round 2. It all resulted in a T-5 finish and just three shots back of winner Dustin Johnson.
“I appreciate Brooks putting the trust in me to have me on the roster this year,” said McDowell, who experienced his first podium finish of any kind with the team victory. “Sundays are always difficult at any event. There's an expectation level that you have for yourself.”
Added Koepka: “Last week we just didn't have a good Sunday. That happens, though. We obviously learned something, and then to come back and G-Mac to play the way he did today was spectacular.”
Teammate Talor Gooch, another new member to Smash GC who won the individual championship last season, finished tied for second, just one back of winner Dustin Johnson. Jason Kokrak finished T-5 like his teammate McDowell, and Kokrak was at his hottest during the first two rounds when he combined to go 8 under.
“The good thing about having these four guys on the team is we know any given Sunday, if we have a chance, we can run away with a tournament,” Gooch said. “For me, I actually didn't hit it that great today, but I made a few putts out there, so the putter got hot at the right time, and it's just kind of helped propel us to the win.”
Smash GC’s performance was a master class in how to play final rounds, which beginning this season counts all four players’ scores. The players combined to shoot 10 under for the day, and there was no outlier score to hurt the team on the leaderboard. Kokrak shot 1 under on the day, and while it wasn’t as low as his teammates’ scores, he helped by getting it under par.
“I kind of noticed throughout, maybe halfway through, that we were second, third, and then we were down a couple, then we were up a couple,” Kokrak said. “I think we all made birdies at the right time.”