Of the 12 team rosters for the 2023 LIV Golf League, just three (Fireballs GC, Crushers GC, Majesticks GC) return the same lineup that finished the inaugural season at last year’s Team Championship. That means nine teams – 75% of the League – have made at least one personnel change.
So, should we just dismiss last year’s results when trying to predict how 2023 will shake out? Well…
Dustin Johnson’s 4Aces GC were the dominant team a year ago and will be potent again this year. That won’t change. The main development of all the roster switches, however, is the improved depth of other teams. More teams will be in the mix on a more consistent basis. Don’t expect the same disparity of points spread out among the 12 teams. Stronger lineups equal increased competition. And more intrigue.
With that being said, here are the Full Season Team Power Rankings for 2023. (Later this week, we will have a separate Power Rankings specifically geared to the season-opening LIV Golf Mayakoba.) With 14 events on this year’s global schedule, at least a few teams will produce multiple tournament victories. But don’t expect one team to claim more than half the tournaments, like the 4Aces did a year ago. Domination might very well be replaced by parity in 2023.
Putting the defending champs anywhere but No. 1 going into the 2023 season is folly. Talor Gooch provided some timely low scores last year, and his departure would normally be a cause for alarm. But Peter Uihlein is a terrific replacement, coming off a year in which he finished third in the Individual Champion race. First place, of course, was captured by 4Aces captain Dustin Johnson – and fourth place went to Patrick Reed. So, in essence, the 4Aces have three of last year’s top four individual performers on their team this season (along with returning glue guy Pat Perez). The only thing the Aces didn’t do last season was win outside the U.S., so we’ll see if that’s a factor again – especially early, with three of the first five tournaments in Mexico, Australia and Singapore.
New name, new logo, new attitude. Last year’s Niblicks GC finished last in points during the regular season. But that was with Captain Bubba Watson on the mend after knee surgery. He’s now on the active roster – and adding a two-time Masters champ to the lineup seems pretty significant. Plus, the addition of Talor Gooch from 4Aces brings a winning pedigree and instant chemistry with good friend Harold Varner III. And If that wasn’t enough, then add a top-50 player in Thomas Pieters, who’ll likely be playing with a chip on his shoulder this season. The RangeGoats are deep and talented, and once Watson shakes off any rust, they’ll be a threat in every event.
The Fireballs finished third in points last season, and with the same lineup returning, it’s easy to peg them as a top-three team this year. Captain Sergio Garcia had offseason knee surgery, but he seems to have bounced back quickly with a top-five finish at the International Series Oman. Abraham Ancer, determined to perform better than he did last season, won the PIF Saudi International earlier this month, so that’s a great sign. Carlos Ortiz and Eugenio Chacarra (the LIV Golf Bangkok winner) had big moments last year and should only be better. But the biggest factor may be the two LIV Golf events in which the Spanish-speaking Fireballs will have heavy support – Mayakoba and Valderrama. Got to like their chances in each one.
Captain Bryson DeChambeau knows he did not have his “A” game last season as he battled some health issues. Now having solved his vertigo issues, he expects to be the Bryson of 2018, the one that won four times during a 13-start stretch. Even without DeChambeau at his best, the Crushers were among the most consistent teams, finishing second in regular-season points despite not winning a team title. The veteran threesome of Paul Casey, Anirban Lahiri and Charles Howell III offer experience and reliability, a perfect complement to Bryson’s power-driven game. Count on the Crushers to finally celebrate with champagne this season.
Cameron Smith’s newly branded team hopes to benefit from having a home game at LIV Golf Adelaide, where they will be fueled by their fellow Aussies. But this isn’t just about that one week at The Grange. Smith, the reigning Open Champion, showed he can put the team on his back and practically carry them to a title – as he nearly did last year on the final day of the Miami Team Championship. Expect Marc Leishman to make a bigger impact this season, while Matt Jones offers consistency. The addition of Jediah Morgan is intriguing – he struggled in his two starts with the pre-Smith Punch GC last year but played much better down the stretch with Torque GC. If he continues to raise his game, he’ll provide a big dose of depth.
The all-South African team captained by Louis Oosthuizen started off red-hot last year, winning the inaugural LIV Golf London and capturing the first two individual titles (Charl Schwartzel in London, Branden Grace in Portland). Grace also was the most consistent Stinger, eventually finishing second in the season-long Individual Champion race. The trio of Oosthuizen, Schwartzel and Grace will give Stinger a chance each week, but the key could be newcomer Dean Burmester. He won twice in 2021 and was a runner-up twice last year; at age 33, he’s playing his best golf. If the Stingers have solidified that fourth position with Burmester, they’ll be as dangerous as any team in 2023.
The Brooks Koepka-led team found its footing late in the 2022 season, eventually winning the team title at LIV Golf Jeddah (with Brooks beating then-teammate Peter Uihlein in a playoff for the individual crown). Smash then made a spirited run to the Championship round in Miami, eventually claiming third place. Uihlein is gone now, but big-hitting Matthew Wolff transfers in to fill that void. Wolff displayed moments of brilliance last season, and if his putting is more consistent, he’ll have a big year. Brooks is Brooks, of course, a threat every week, while carryovers Jason Kokrak and Chase Koepka are sneaky-solid contributors. Smash will have at least one tournament in which everything is aligned. If that happens multiple times, then this No. 7 ranking is too low.
If we’re going strictly on chemistry, Torque is a projected top-three team. Captain Joaquin Niemann has added two of his closest friends in fellow Chilean Mito Pereira and Colombian Sebastian Munoz, and that will pay huge dividends at various times this season when Torque is battling for a podium spot. Expect the ultra-talented Niemann to win at least one individual event this season, which will give Torque a chance to win a team trophy. The other player on the roster, 21-year-old David Puig of Spain, played for Niemann at LIV Golf Chicago last season and will be eager to contribute and prove his worth. This is a foursome that should be greater than the sum of its parts, and definitely a fun one to watch.
The bottom-half ranking of this veteran crew has more to do with the strong depth of the team rosters this season than anything specific to the Majesticks. In other words, a top-four finish in regular season points would be no surprise. The three-headed captaincy of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson – the only team with multiple captains – will be an advantage in areas both on and off the course. Stenson won in his LIV Golf debut last year and the Majesticks reached the podium in his first two starts but could not build on that momentum down the stretch. With three established stars and 26-year-old Sam Horsfield, the Majesticks can make serious noise – especially at some of the new venues (Tucson, Valderrama, Singapore) in which team members have had prior success.
The Cleeks were one of the feel-good stories at last year’s Miami Team Championship, winning a quarterfinals match and coming close to another upset in the semifinals. That was without Captain Martin Kaymer, who injured his wrist at the previous event. Kaymer has yet to play since then; hopefully he’s cleared to return to action. Kaymer and Graeme McDowell were the two big names on the Cleeks roster last year, but now the team has added a third player with Ryder Cup experience in Austrian Bernd Wiesberger. Carryover Richard Bland, who partnered with McDowell for a big match win in Miami, continues to show good form in his later years. The Cleeks will look to improve their consistency in 2023 but may struggle for multiple podium finishes.
Thanks to a weight-loss program during the offseason, Phil Mickelson is slimmer than last year. But no doubt the 52-year-old captain is hungry to lead the HyFlyers to steady success. Half of his roster has changed, though, and the loss of Matthew Wolff and Bernd Wiesberger might be felt. Returnee Cameron Tringale, 20th in the Individual Champion standings last season, joins new Flyers James Piot and Brendan Steele to complete the revamped lineup. Piot had his moments last season while playing for the former Niblicks, and the 39-year-old Steele is a 10-time winner that offers a steady hand. If Mickelson rebounds and returns to the form that won him the 2021 PGA Championship at age 50, then the HyFlyers will be ready for takeoff.
Captain Kevin Na and Sihwan Kim return from last year’s lineup and will be accompanied by one new player and one former player. Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, who gained LIV Golf membership in 2023 by claiming the International Series Order of Merit, played for four different teams last season – including one start with the Iron Heads at Bedminster. New Zealander Danny Lee is a new LIV Golf member for 2023; like Americans Na and Kim, he was born in South Korea but moved as a youngster and represents a different country. Will the new mix work? The Iron Heads suffered a couple of heartbreaking near-podium finishes last season, so perhaps the new chemistry will be a difference-maker. Expect the ultra-competitive Na to push as many buttons as possible in a season that will be both challenging and interesting.