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LIV Golf Miami: Smith, Poulter help clinch Team Championship semifinal spots

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Cameron Smith hits out of sand trap at the LIV Golf Team Championship on Friday at Trump National Doral in Miami. Photo by Thom Baur/UPI
Cameron Smith hits out of sand trap at the LIV Golf Team Championship on Friday at Trump National Doral in Miami. Photo by Thom Baur/UPI | License Photo

MIAMI, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Cameron Smith beat Phil Mickelson and Harold Varner III edged Brooks Koepka in two of several intriguing matches in the quarterfinals of the LIV Golf Team Championship on Friday at Trump National Doral in Miami.

Thirty-two golfers were in action at the Blue Monster course. The finale of the Saudi-funded series' inaugural season will run through Sunday. The winning team will earn $16 million, which will be split four ways.

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Friday's round began with a simultaneous start on the tees, with eight teams facing off in four head-to-head matchups. Each of those matchups included three matches: two singles matches and an alternate-shot foursomes match.

The 16 players on the four teams eliminated Friday still took home $250,000 apiece. The four teams that advanced will face the Top 4 seeds, who received first-round byes, in the semifinals.

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"It was a good match," Smith, the No. 3 golfer in the world, said of his match with Mickelson. "I think Phil maybe had some gamesmanship in there.

"He seemed to take forever today. That was a bit painful. ... But I was able to get the job done on the last hole."

Smith sank 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 decisive second point.

Matthew Wolff gave the No. 8 Hy Flyers a point with a singles win over Punch's Marc Leishman. Punch's Matt Jones and Wade Ormsby teamed up to beat Bernd Wiesberger and Cameron Tringale in foursomes.

Smith then edged Mickelson to secure No. 11 seed Punch's spot in the semifinals.

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Captain Ian Poulter and the No. 6 seed Majesticks won their first head-to-head matchup 3-0 over No. 9 Ironheads to become the first team to advance to the semifinals.

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Poulter and Lee Westwood beat Kevin Na and Sihwan Kim in respective singles matches to claim two points for Majesticks. Sam Horsfield and Henrick Stenson earned another point with a win over Sadom Kaewkanjana and Phachara Khongwatmai in foursomes.

Smash, captained by Koepka, was the second team to advance. Varner edged Koepka in their singles match, but Koepka's teammate Peter Uihlein beat 12th-seeded Niblicks' James Piot in the other singles duel.

Chase Koepka and Jason Kokrak helped No. 5 Smash earn another point with a foursomes win over Turk Petit and Hudson Swafford.

No. 10 Cleeks beat No. 7 Torque for the final semifinal spot. Torque captain Joquinn Niemann beat Shergo Al Kurdi in a singles match. Cleeks' Lauri Canter edged Jediah Morgan in the other singles match, which tied the score.

Graeme McDowell and Richard Bland then teamed up to clinch Cleeks' second point with a foursomes win over Scott Vincent and Adrian Otaegui.

Captain Dustin Johnson -- who claimed LIV Golf's individual title and its $18 million prize-- also helped his 4 Aces team earn a first-round bye.

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He chose Cleeks as 4 Aces' semifinals opponent.

"All the teams are great and any team could win," Johnson said. "I felt like this was our best option."

Captain Bryson DeChambeau opted for his second-seeded Crushers to face Stinger in the semifinals.

Captain Sergio Garcia and the third-seeded Fireballs opted to take on Punch in the semifinals.

Koepka and Smash will meet Majesticks on Saturday in Miami.

Saturday's format will mirror that of the quarterfinals. Four teams will advance to Sunday's final round.

The four teams eliminated Saturday each will take home $3 million.

The semifinals will start at 12:15 p.m. EDT and air on LIVGolf.com, YouTube and Facebook. The final round will start at the same time Friday and air on the same platforms.

The second-place team will win $8 million. The third- and fourth-place teams will receive $6 million and $4 million, respectively.

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