FIELD NOTES FOR LIV GOLF INVITATIONAL CHICAGO
Written by LIV GOLF STAFF
BY THE NUMBERS
2 – Players who have posted top 10 finishes in all four LIV Golf events (Johnson, Gooch) 12 Number of majors won in the last 26 major championships
4 – Former world No. 1s (Johnson, Kaymer, B. Koepka, Westwood)
5 – NCAA Division I individual champions (DeChambeau, Howell III, Mickelson, Pettit, Wolff)
7 – Players currently ranked No. 1 among their countrymen
11 – Players with 500 or more professional starts (Bland, Casey, Garcia, Howell, Mickelson, Na, Perez, Poulter, Schwartzel, Stenson, Westwood)
12 – Major champions (DeChambeau, Garcia, Johnson, Kaymer, B. Koepka, McDowell, Mickelson, Oosthuizen, Reed, Schwartzel, Smith, Stenson)
12 – Number of majors won in the last 26 major championships
13 – Players who have participated in the Olympics
14 – Countries represented (USA 19, England 6, Australia 5, South Africa 4, Spain 3, Mexico 2, Thailand 2, Austria 1, Chile 1, Germany 1, India 1, Northern Ireland 1, Sweden 1, Zimbabwe 1)
20 – Players with 10 or more professional wins (Casey 21, DeChambeau 10, Garcia 36, Grace 15, Harding 11, Johnson 29, Kaymer 23, B. Koepka 15, Kokrak 11, Lahiri 18, Leishman 13, McDowell 16, Mickelson 57, Norris 12, Oosthuizen 20, Poulter 19, Schwartzel 16, Stenson 22, Westwood 44, Wiesberger 13)
22 – Combined majors won (7 Masters, 6 U.S. Opens, 5 PGA Championships, 4 Open Championships)
28 – Players who have started each of the first four events in the LIV Golf Invitational Series
505 – Cumulative professional wins for the 48-man field
Players in their 20s: 13
Players in their 30s: 22
Players in their 40s: 12
Players in their 50s: 1
Youngest player: David Puig, 20 (born Dec. 7, 2001)
Oldest player: Phil Mickelson, 52 (born June 16, 1970)
RELATED NOTES: PREVIEW OF EACH TEAM IN CHICAGO
THE DOMINANCE OF DUSTIN JOHNSON ...
Dustin Johnson’s playoff win at LIV Golf Invitational Boston is the high point of an impressive four- tournament stretch to start his LIV Golf career.
Not only did Johnson become the first American player to win a LIV Golf event, he captained 4 Aces GC to its third consecutive team title, as his team remained undefeated on American soil.
The Boston victory also elevated Johnson to the top of the LIV Golf Individual Champion points standings. He now has 94 points, leading his closest pursuer – Stinger GC’s Branden Grace – by 17 points in the race for the season-long Individual Champion, which concludes after LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah next month.
Johnson’s average finish in his four starts is 4.0 (8th, 4th, 3rd, 1st in order), the best average among the 28 players who have appeared in all four tournaments. The next best average finish belongs to Grace at 7.25.
In addition, Johnson and 4 Aces GC teammate Talor Gooch (9th, 7th, 10th, 6th) are the only two players to post top 10 finishes in each of the four events. Of his first 12 rounds on LIV Golf, Johnson has produced 10 scores under par and the other two at even par. All 12 of his rounds have counted for his team.
“I’ve been playing solid, I feel, like every week. Every round I’ve felt like I’m doing the right things,” said Johnson, who has played in the lead threesome in the last three tournaments. “The game is definitely in good form and I like the direction it’s heading in.”
... AND THE DOMINANCE OF THE OTHER ACES
While Dustin Johnson is the captain and catalyst of 4 Aces GC, the other three members also are vital to the team’s success.
Patrick Reed posted top 5 finishes in his first two starts after joining LIV Golf. Although he was not in contention for the individual title in Boston, his final-round 66 was crucial as the 4 Aces overcame a 5-shot deficit to beat Crushers GC by 2 strokes. Reed was 4 under in his final six holes, including an eagle on the 8th hole.
Talor Gooch has been a fixture inside the top 10. At Boston, his rounds of 63-65-69 all counted. In addition, he’s been exceptionally strong in a variety of areas. Since joining 4 Aces, Gooch has ranked 1st in Greens in Regulation in Portland, tied for 1st for fewest putts in Bedminster, and first in Fairways Hit in Boston.
Pat Perez comes off his best result as a LIV member, finishing 7 under and 16th on the individual points leaderboard. While none of his three rounds counted, two of them were under par and the other at even par.
In their 21 counting rounds played since the current lineup was formed in Portland, 4 Aces GC are a cumulative 80 under par. The breakdown: Johnson, 33 under (9 rounds); Gooch, 22 under (5 rounds); Reed, 22 under (5 rounds); and Perez, 3 under (2 rounds). Only one of their counting rounds has been at even par; the rest have been below par. Twelve of those rounds have been 4 under or better.
No team has beaten the current all-American roster. The only other team to win this season is the all-South African Stinger GC at the inaugural event in London. Johnson had a different lineup; Reed and Perez had not yet joined LIV; and Gooch was the captain of Torque GC.
“DJ came up to me in England for the first one at Centurion and said, ‘Hey, let’s not lose to these South Africans anymore. Let’s go and get some trophies,” Gooch recalled. “I was like, ‘I’m in. Let’s do it.’”
FIRST IMPRESSIONS FROM LIV GOLF’S NEWEST FACES
Six world-class players, including 2022 Open champion Cameron Smith of Australia and Chile's top pro Joaquin Niemann made their LIV Golf debuts in Boston. Niemann and another newcomer, India’s Anirban Lahiri, were part of the three-man playoff won by Dustin Johnson. Here’s a quick look at how the six players fared and their impressions of the first week as LIV Golf members.
Anirban Lahiri, Crushers GC. Finished at 15 under (2nd place in points) and was in position to make birdie in the playoff before Johnson rolled in his eagle putt. “It’s very different. A lot of fun,” Lahiri said. “Just the atmosphere, it’s been great. I’d love to see how the people who watch the action react because people say we’re not competitive. If that’s not competitive, I don’t know what’s competitive.”
Joaquin Niemann, Torque GC captain. Finished at 15 under (3rd in points) and parred the playoff hole. “Best experience I’ve had on a golf course by far,” Niemann said. “It was a bit different but this was better than I thought. ... Just seeing the crowd so young – you can feel the energy.”
Cameron Smith, Punch GC captain. Finished at 14 under (5th in points), one shot out of the playoff. “The competition here is fantastic,” Smith said. “It’s loud. It feels like the course has got a heartbeat, and I love that. I can’t wait to keep going.”
Cameron Tringale, Hy Flyers GC. Finished at 5 under (23rd in points) playing for captain Phil Mickelson’s team. “We have a great team and championed by one of the best players in my generation,” Tringale said. “I’m excited to get to be alongside him and learn from him and continue just to contribute to the team.”
Marc Leishman, Punch GC. Finished at 4 under (30th in points) playing for fellow Aussie Smith’s Punch GC team. “I’m really looking forward to watching this tour grow into something really special, which I think it will ... It’s going to be good for the game. Good to bring people to watch golf that may not otherwise watch it.”
Harold Varner III, Niblicks GC. Finished at 3 under (34th in points) playing for good friend Bubba Watson, Niblicks GC’s non-playing captain. “I’ve always been a team guy. It’s never been about me, and that’s what makes it so cool,” Varner said.
54 HOLES IN SHORTS ... IF THAT’S YOUR PREFERENCE
The LIV Golf Invitational Chicago will be the first men's elite-level professional tournament in which players have the option to wear shorts during all competitive rounds.
LIV Golf introduced the relaxed apparel rule after the first round in Boston, with 40% of the 48-man field opting to wear shorts in Saturday’s second round at The International. Several players who wore pants on the weekend said that they did so simply because they didn’t have shorts available to wear.
“I love it, wearing shorts,” said Joaquin Niemann. “I just didn’t have anything clean for the moment. I’ve got to pack better.”
Dustin Johnson, captain of the three-time winning 4 Aces GC, said he did not want his team to make the adjustment during the middle of the tournament. So all four Aces players continued to wear pants in the final two rounds.
“If we would have started or known before the tournament started, we probably would have worn shorts,” Johnson said. “But in the middle of the tournament, I don’t like switching it up.”
Hy Flyers GC captain Phil Mickelson has been a huge proponent of allowing pros to wear shorts during competition. LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman cited Mickelson as an influential figure in the decision.
“This is a long time coming in the game of golf,” Mickelson said. “I think it just takes a disruptor like LIV to get things done. They’ve been leading in many ways, and I’m very happy that they are leading in this particular area.”
LIV GOLF’S LATEST RECORD SETTERS
Four tournaments into the inaugural season and the LIV Golf record book continues to expand with some significant entries.
First hole-in-one: Matthew Wolff recorded the first ace in LIV Golf history during the first round in Boston with his tee shot at the 178-yard No. 2 hole. “Being the first one to do anything is always special, but I know for a fact I’m not going to be the last,” Wolff said.
Lowest round: Lee Westwood established a new low round with his 8-under 62 in the final round in Boston. Westwood was a bogey-free 9 under in his first 15 holes before finishing bogey-birdie-bogey in his last three holes. “I was looking at 59 there. You don’t get many looks at that,” said the Majesticks GC captain.
First playoff: The potential exists for playoffs in either the individual or team competition at LIV Golf events, and it became a reality in Boston with the three-man playoff of Dustin Johnson, Anirban Lahiri and Joaquin Niemann.
Most birdies: Boston champion Dustin Johnson carded 21 birdies, the most in a single tournament by any player this season. Branden Grace held the previous mark of 20 while winning in Portland.
Biggest bounce-back: After opening with a 17-over 87, the highest score among the first four events, Sihwan Kim bounced back in the second round with a 24-shot improvement in shooting a 7-under 63. “Just kind of lost it yesterday,” Kim said after his round. “But found something on the range today.”
STENSON RETURNS, BUT KURDI’S ON CALL AGAIN
Henrik Stenson returns to action in Chicago after having to withdraw in Boston. The individual champion in Bedminster in his LIV Golf debut, Stenson was a late scratch due to vertigo. His place in the field, as well as on the Majesticks GC roster, was taken by reserve player Shergo Al Kurdi of Jordan.
Kurdi, who turned 19 years old the day after the tournament, acquitted himself well. Playing in the featured group off the No. 1 tee with Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith, Kurdi shot an opening 1-over 71, and followed that with another 71 in the second round. On Sunday, playing in the same group with 52-year-old Phil Mickelson, he then shot a 4-under 66. Kurdi holed putts of 62 and 59 feet, as well as a short eagle putt on the par-5 18th after a brilliant second shot.
Kurdi’s score was vital for Majesticks GC. It was one of the team’s three counting scores in the final round, as Majesticks moved from 10th place to 3rd place, finishing in the money for the third time this season.
“It was great,” Kurdi said. “Really happy with the week. Really happy with the way I finished.”
Kurdi, a global ambassador for Golf Saudi and the first golfer from the Middle East to make the cut at a DP World Tour event, will again be a reserve player in Chicago.
PUIG TURNS PRO, RETURNS TO LIV GOLF
Spain’s David Puig, previously ranked ninth in the world among amateur players, makes his professional debut this week as a member of Joaquin Niemann's Torque GC team.
The 20-year-old Puig is making his third start at a LIV Invitational event. In London, he finished 40th while playing for Fireballs GC. In Bedminster, he finished 42nd while playing for Cleeks GC.
He’s the youngest player in the 48-man field in Chicago. Puig recently played in the U.S. Amateur, reaching the round of 16 before losing to eventual champion Sam Bennett.