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ADELAIDE, Australia: LIV Golf’s first team playoff has been long overdue. But after two-and-a-half seasons and 28 tournaments, it finally happened on Sunday at LIV Golf Adelaide — and resulted in an epic storybook ending for the hometown Ripper GC.

The all-Australian team, captained by Cameron Smith, beat the all-South African Stinger GC on the second playoff hole to capture a victory that the entire country had been hoping to experience, with more than 90,000 fans attending the three rounds of competition at The Grange Golf Course.

“This is unreal,” said Smith, standing on the 18th green and draped in an Australian flag with his teammates Marc Leishman, Matt Jones and Lucas Herbert. “It’s a dream come true for us.”

Another dream was experienced by Adelaide individual champion Brendan Steele, who won the first trophy of any kind for his HyFlyers GC team. The 41-year-old American shot a gritty 4-under 68 to finish at 18 under, one stroke better than Stinger captain Louis Oosthuizen.

“Really surreal,” said Steele, whose win was the 11th of his professional career, but the first since 2017.

“I’m pretty overwhelmed, but to win this event is really special. I can’t say enough good things about the fans and the golf course and the whole experience this week.”

Steele entered the final round with a one-stroke lead and produced a string of five consecutive birdies on Sunday to give himself enough of a cushion against the hard-charging Oosthuizen, who shot a 7-under 65. Five players tied for third, two strokes back: HyFlyers teammate Andy Ogletree (65), Legion XIII Captain Jon Rahm (64), the Stingers duo of Charl Schwartzel (64) and Dean Burmester (67) and Torque GC Captain Joaquin Niemann (66), the season-long individual standings leader.

Steele was able to hold off all challengers, and the Rippers appeared to be doing the same for most of the final nine holes, riding the support of the Adelaide fans to the top of the leaderboard. At one point, they led by as many as five strokes until the Stingers started to whittle away at the lead.

When Smith bogeyed his last hole of the day, the 18th, while Oosthuizen birdied his next-to-last hole, both teams finished at 53 under for the week — a record-low counting score in LIV Golf history.

That set up LIV Golf’s first team playoff, with Smith and Leishman representing the Rippers, while Oosthuizen and Burmester represented the Stingers, with the scores for all four players counting for their respective teams on each playoff hole.

The Stingers appeared to have the advantage on the first playoff hole, with Oosthuizen and Burmester hitting similar tee shots and approaches, leaving them within makeable but a challenging birdie range above the 18th hole pin. Meanwhile, Smith was in trouble off the tee and found the bunker with his approach, while Leishman’s approach came up short and rolled back toward the fairway.

As he walked toward the green, Leishman estimated his chances of extending the playoff at 25 percent — and that is being optimistic, he added. But each Ripper managed to save par, while the Stinger duo each missed their birdie putts, Oosthuizen’s lipping out.

“How we got out of that, I don’t really know,” Leishman said. “We were done and dusted by the looks of it.”

Given a reprieve, the Rippers took advantage on the second playoff hole. Leishman was on in two and made par, while both Stingers found the back greenside bunker, eventually suffering bogeys. Smith had two putts for a bogey to win and needed both of them to set off a raucous celebration.

“You couldn’t have staged a better place to do the first playoff,” said a gracious Oosthuizen in defeat. “Probably couldn’t script it better with the Rippers winning. We had chances. We had two putts on the first hole. And I hit a good putt on the second playoff hole as well. Some days they go in, some days they don’t.”

For the Australian quartet, it was the dream ending for a week of incredible support. For Smith, it was the reason he joined LIV Golf in 2022, shortly after winning the Open Championship at St. Andrews.

“This week has far exceeded my vision for what was ahead,” Smith said. “I think I always knew internally that Australia would really embrace LIV with the culture, with the music, with the entertainment, everything that goes on around it. I always felt like this was the place where it was going to make it big, and how it’s been the last couple of years has been just insane.

“Last year I said, I’m biased, this is the best tournament I’ve ever played. I think this year it’s done it again.”

Final team standings

Standings and counting scores for Sunday’s final round of the team competition at LIV Golf Adelaide. The three best scores from each team count in the first two rounds while all four scores count in the final round. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title. (won in playoff)

1. RIPPER GC -53 (Herbert 65, Leishman 65, Jones 68, Smith 70; Rd. 3 score -20)

2. STINGER GC -53 (Schwartzel 64, Oosthuizen 65, Burmester 67, Grace 68; Rd. 3 score -24)

3. HYFLYERS GC -48 (Ogletree 65, Steele 68, Mickelson 70, Tringale 71; Rd. 3 score -14)

4. TORQUE GC -46 (Niemann 66, Muñoz 69, Pereira 69, Ortiz 73; Rd. 3 score -11)

5. LEGION XIII -42 (Rahm 64, Hatton 67, Surratt 68, Vincent 70; Rd. 3 score -19)

6. IRON HEADS GC -41 (Kozuma 68, Na 69, Lee 71, Vincent 73; Rd. 3 score -7)

7. CLEEKS GC -40 (Kaymer 64, Meronk 66, Bland 69, Samooja 69; Rd. 3 score -20)

8. CRUSHERS GC -40 (Lahiri 67, Casey 68, DeChambeau 70, Howell III 71; Rd. 3 score -12)

9. RANGEGOATS GC -38 (Pieters 67, Wolff 69, Uihlein 71, Watson 71; Rd. 3 score -10)

10. FIREBALLS GC -35 (Ancer 64, Garcia 66, Chacarra 67, Puig 69; Rd. 3 score -22)

11. SMASH GC -31 (Koepka 66, Kokrak 69, Gooch 70, McDowell 71; Rd. 3 score -12)

12. 4ACES GC -30 (Perez 68, Johnson 69, Reed 72, Varner III 72; Rd. 3 score -7)

13. MAJESTICKS GC -11 (Westwood 69, Horsfield 71, Stenson 71, Poulter 74; Rd. 3 score -3)

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