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2024 SECOND-HALF PREVIEW: OUTLOOKS FOR ALL 13 TEAMS

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Written by
Mike McAllister
Jun 05 2024
- 6 MIN
Second half preview lead STORY Image C Smith

HUMBLE, Texas – The midseason break is finally over, and the second half of the 14-tournament LIV Golf League season begins Friday at LIV Golf Houston. For some teams, it’s a chance for a reset. For others, it’s an opportunity to continue building on their first-half efforts.

The stakes are high in the next four months. An Individual Championship and final team seeds on the line in Chicago in mid-September, followed immediately by the season-ending Team Championship in Dallas. In addition, non-captains will battle to secure spots for next year’s league. Relegation is a threat.

To get you set for the second-half race, here’s a look at each of the 13 teams (listed in order of their current points position):

CRUSHERS GC

Second-half outlook: The Crushers have two wins and lead the team standings – and we’ve yet to see captain Bryson DeChambeau at his dominating best. Scary to think that if he finds his groove, the Crushers could actually get better. The reigning Team Champions, who have thrived in the all-scores-count final round with a league-best 61 under, are not going to be easy to dethrone.

Watch out for: DeChambeau. He turned it on in the second half last year and figures to do the same this year, especially with a return visit to Greenbrier (61-58 on the weekend a year ago) on the schedule. His solo second at the PGA Championship will just make him hungrier.

LEGION XIII

Second-half outlook: Might be tough to improve on that first-half debut for the expansion team. A win to start the season, another win in Miami – Legion showed its more than just a two-headed monster of captain Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton. And yet, you’ve got figure that Rahm and/or Hatton have at least one individual victory between them. For now, a top-three finish in the season-long race and a bye in the first round of the Team Championship is in their grasp.

Watch out for: The young guys improving. First-year pro Caleb Surratt started off hot with two top-15 finishes but has struggled with consistency since then. He’ll get better as he settles in. Kieran Vincent, meanwhile, comes off a victory on the Sunshine Tour and should make more noise in the second half as he fights to avoid the Drop Zone.

RIPPER GC

Second-half outlook: The Rippers are the hottest team in the league entering the second half, having won the last two tournaments in Adelaide and Singapore. And that’s without captain Cameron Smith posting an individual win (although he did have one of his two runner-up finishes in Singapore). The addition of Lucas Herbert has solidified the back half of the lineup, and if the Aussies can keep the momentum going, they’ll be dangerous the rest of the way.

Watch out for: Course change impact. Smith’s three individual LIV Golf wins came at Rich Harvest Farms, Centurion and Bedminster. Marc Leishman had podium finishes at Centurion and Rich Harvest Farms last year, and the Rippers won a team title at Bedminster. None of those courses return for the 2024 schedule. Will it make a difference? Probably not. Still, those three courses paid off quite nicely for the Aussies, and it’s always comforting to feel those positive vibes on return trips.

TORQUE GC

Second-half outlook: At the halfway point last season, Torque already had two wins. They’ve yet to reach the top of the podium this year, but the team’s consistency has actually improved. If they can start the second half in 2024 like they did in 2023, with wins in two of the next three events, they’ll be right in the mix for the top seed.

Watch out for: Mito Pereira and Sebastián Muñoz getting untracked. Each player managed just one top-10 finish in the first half. Pereira, in particular, just needs to start finding fairways. Last season, he ranked eighth in the league with a 65% clip. This year, he ranks T48 at 49%. 

STINGER GC

Second-half outlook: The Stingers should be feeling confident, with three players (LIV Golf Miami winner Dean Burmester, captain Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel) in the top 15 of the individual standings. No other team can match that. On the flip side, the South Africans are still looking for their first team win. Flashes of brilliance (re: final round in Adelaide) have been negated by surprising inconsistency (re: 12th place cold-weather finish in Las Vegas). Oosthuizen is the only current Stinger without an individual LIV Golf career win, but his current form should rectify that issue.

Watch out for: The return of the real Branden Grace. We’re not really sure who that imposter was in the first half. It certainly wasn’t the Grace who’s been one of LIV Golf’s top players in the first two years. Currently sitting 50th in points and without a top-10 finish, Grace will be the key to any second-half Stinger surge. If he can find his form – and his teammates maintain theirs – the South Africans could very well be the league’s best second-half team.

SMASH GC

Second-half outlook: Captain Brooks Koepka has one individual title this season. Talor Gooch has been shut out thus far. Between the two of them, they should be able to claim at least one more individual win. But the new-look Smash wasn’t able to build on its early success, an indication that some things still need to be addressed. Even with Koepka winning Singapore, the team finished off the podium. Surprising, given the depth and experience now in place.

Watch out for: Better starts. Smash is the league’s top performer in the second round (cumulative counting score of 71 under), and they rank third best in the final round (48 under). But their slow starts have been killers. Nine teams have better first-round counting scores than Smash’s 49 under total. Come out of the gate a little hotter, and Smash should be just fine.

RANGEGOATS GC

Second-half outlook: Biggest reason for optimism for the RangeGoats resides in the form of big-hitting Belgian Thomas Pieters. He seems to have found his groove, finishing the first half with two top 10s and another top 15, easily his best stretch of play since joining LIV Golf. The Goats have the firepower to be lethal, especially on long courses, and the trio of Pieters, Matthew Wolff and Peter Uihlein each start the second half inside the Lock Zone, waiting for captain Bubba Watson to join the party.

Watch out for: Uihlein’s balancing act. A year ago, Uihlein led the league in driving distance with a 322.5-yard average but ranked last in fairways hit at 49%. This year, in an apparent attempt to sacrifice distance for more fairways, he’s 21st at 303.1 yards – and yet he still ranks last in fairways hit with an even worse percentage (36%). If he’s not going to find more fairways, Uihlein might as well return to bashing it off the tee. Right, Pete?

FIREBALLS GC

Second-half outlook: The Fireballs come off a shared second-place finish in Singapore. Abraham Ancer has an individual win and playing his best stretch of golf on LIV. Spanish youngsters Eugenio Chacarra and David Puig spent the midseason break successfully qualifying for the U.S. Open. And captain Sergio Garcia just got a fun golf-swing shoutout from Justin Timberlake during a recent concert. A lot of good stuff happening for the Fireballs, who’d love to celebrate with a team victory at Valderrama.

Watch out for: Sergio winning a playoff. No LIV golfer has played more extra holes than Garcia’s seven in his three playoff losses (including that four-hole into-the-darkness showdown in the season opener against Joaquin Niemann). The odds have to be in his favor if he gets a fourth crack at it. Of course, he’d rather avoid all that trouble and win in regulation.

CLEEKS GC

Second-half outlook: The preseason prediction was that the Cleeks would be this year’s sleeper team. That perspective hasn’t changed. Their shared-second in Singapore was the team’s best-ever result, and newcomer Adrian Meronk gives the Cleeks any-given-week potential. Meanwhile, captain Martin Kaymer is showing signs of raising his game after his lengthy wrist issues. 

Watch out for: Mr. Lock Zone. Richard Bland has kept his LIV Golf playing privileges the past two seasons by finishing in the top-24 Lock Zone. He enters the second half ranked 25th in points. Given his phenomenal showing two weeks ago at the Senior PGA Championship – winning a Senior major in his first senior start – the 51-year-old Bland seems like a lock to, well, finish in the Lock Zone again. At this point, though, Blandy likely has higher aspirations.

4ACES GC

Second-half outlook: The Aces have been the top seed after the regular season in each of the first two years. It doesn’t look good for a three-peat. They have just one podium finish thus far – a second-place in Las Vegas on the back of captain Dustin Johnson’s individual win – and have twice finished 12th. Normally rock-solid Patrick Reed said his game is solid but “the ball’s not going in the hole.” On an Aces team that has underachieved this season, he’s not alone.

Watch out for: Those final-round woes. The 4Aces used to dominate Sundays. That’s no longer the case this year with all four scores counting for the first time in the regular season. The Aces are a cumulative 14 under in the final round, ranking ninth in the league. Pat Perez has more final rounds in the 60s (3) than Reed and Harold Varner III combined. The drop-off in final-round performance is best exemplified at Doral. When the Aces won the 2022 Team Championship, they shot a cumulative 7 under on the final day (the first time all four scores had ever counted in LIV Golf). At this year’s regular-season event in Miami, they were a combined 4 over on Sunday.

HYFLYERS GC

Second-half outlook: Put aside the one terrific week in Adelaide when Brendan Steele won the individual crown – the first trophy of any kind in the team’s history – and the HyFlyers haven’t made any significant noise this year. But perhaps that will change with a more American-centric schedule in the second half. Despite that overseas success in Australia, the all-American Flyers might be more comfortable on home soil, with five of the final seven tournaments in the states (including two in Texas, a state in which Steele and captain Phil Mickelson have won in during their pro careers). Yes, it’s probably a thin thread to build on, but gotta start somewhere.

Watch out for: Andy Ogletree growing into the season. In his first full year on LIV Golf after winning the International Series crown last year, Ogletree’s results this season have mirrored the team – one good finish in Adelaide, and not much else. Still, he sits 28th in points, and he needs to finish inside the top 24 to secure a spot for next year. Plenty of incentive – and as he showed last year on the Asian Tour, he has plenty of game.

MAJESTICKS GC

Second-half outlook: It doesn’t look great, given their two most recent finishes – last place in both Adelaide and Singapore. They also finished last in Jeddah, the only team with multiple 13th place results this year. So, what gives the Majesticks hope? Well, there’s the “home” game at LIV Golf UK, in which they should have plenty of support. Perhaps it will provide the spark that has been missing for way too long.

Watch out for: Any podium result. The Majesticks’ current streak of 23 consecutive regular-season tournaments without a podium finish is the longest in the league (although they came close in Hong Kong this year, finishing one stroke out of third). Meanwhile, co-captain Lee Westwood is hoping to end his personal points drought; he’s the league only non-Wild Card player without a point this season.

IRON HEADS GC

Second-half outlook: The good news? It can’t get any worse. Of course, captain Kevin Na and his crew are hoping it will at least get better. Individually, Na has been solid – he’s 20th in points (a year ago, he finished 30th). But he’s received no support, with the other three players combining for two top-10s and four total points finishes. Scott Vincent is currently in the Drop Zone, so he has plenty of incentive for a second-half course correction.

Watch out for: Any podium result, Part II. You know that Majesticks’ streak referenced above? The next longest podium drought is the Iron Heads’ 18 straight, going all the way back to Tucson last year when Danny Lee won, and the Iron Heads finished third. To end that streak, the Iron Heads will need to improve on Sunday. Through the first seven events, they’re a league-worst 1 over in the final round.

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