Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Apr 07 2024
- 5 MIN
Ripper Miami recap Leishman

MIAMI - Ripper GC began this week's LIV Golf Miami with high hopes at a venue which suited the eye of each of the four team members but the all-Australian combination suffered a major blow on Saturday before the start of the second round.

In-form captain Cameron Smith, who had lost out in a three-way playoff for LIV Golf Hong Kong in his previous start, had to withdraw from the tournament due to likely food poisoning and was replaced by reserve player Ben Campbell.

It was the first LIV Golf appearance for the 32-year-old from New Zealand, who also played in Sunday's final round when all four scores counted for the team.

The absence of their inspirational leader was a massive setback for the Rippers, who ended their week in Miami placed a disappointing 10th out of 13 in the team standings.

Marc Leishman was the best performer for Ripper GC over the three days, closing with a 3-under 69 at Trump National Doral to finish in a three-way tie for fourth at 8-under. Leishman ended the week ranked joint sixth in putting with a total of just 82.

Veteran Matt Jones shared 32nd place after signing off with a 69 while Lucas Herbert ended a frustrating week in joint 51st spot after struggling to an 81 in the final round.

Campbell, who won last year's Hong Kong Open by a shot over Cameron Smith after finishing with consecutive birdies, was happy enough to card rounds of 71 and 73 at Doral after coming in as a late replacement.

"I feel like I was playing okay, but I just made a few little silly mistakes today," Campbell said after mixing three birdies with two bogeys and a double at the tricky par-4 18th. "It's a tough beast of a golf course out there, and it would have been nice to play a little better, but it was still great to get a run."

Asked how tough it was fill in for Smith this week as a reserve player, Campbell replied: "Like all the other weeks, I've been prepared really well, but unfortunately my clubs didn't arrive until Thursday. I played the pro-am on Thursday, and that was about the only practice I managed to get in.

"It was obviously disappointing not to have a better lead-up because I feel like my game is in a lot better shape than what I scored. But it's been a great experience and I've learned a lot being out here.  I'll be going to Adelaide and Singapore next, and hopefully I get another run there."

Leishman was the standout player for the Rippers in Sunday's final round. After starting the day four shots off the pace, he offset a birdie at the par-3 fourth (his second hole of the day) with a bogey at the fifth before picking up another shot at the par-5 10th to get to 6-under.

He also birdied the par-4 16th and then the par-4 second to finish at 8-under. However, with Leishman not getting too much support from his team mates during the final round (with the exception of Jones), the Rippers did not improve on their 10th place in the standings overnight.

Nonetheless, Campbell thoroughly enjoyed his two days of filling in as a Rippers player.

"They were amazing," said the 32-year-old from Masterton who turned professional in 2012. "I've been really lucky to spend a bit of time with the guys out here so I know them, and Leish was amazing yesterday. He's one of the guys I've looked upon, and he's been an idol of mine for years.

"To get a slap on the back from Leish yesterday and for him to say, "Good round,' it's been special. I know a lot of those guys, so it's quite nice to fit in with them."