WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – The battle for two trophies came down to the final group on Sunday at LIV Golf Orlando, and the outcome was a split decision, with Smash GC Captain Brooks Koepka winning the individual trophy while Torque GC claimed its first team title at Orange County National.
Koepka’s win, by one stroke over Torque’s Sebastián Muñoz, makes him the first two-time winner in LIV Golf. The four-time major champion won the regular-season finale last year in the Invitational Series in Jeddah. It’s also his first elite pro victory in his home state of Florida.
“I’ve been playing good for a few weeks,” Koepka said after his final-round 3-under 68 left him at 15 under. “It just hasn’t really shown on the scorecard, making dumb mistakes. It was nice to come out this week and play mistake-free pretty much.”
Torque GC Captain Joaquin Niemann, who overhauled his roster during the offseason to add new LIV players Muñoz and Mito Pereira while bringing in LIV free agent David Puig, was happy to get the team title in just their third start with the new lineup. Torque’s Spanish-speaking four-man roster is the youngest in the LIV Golf League.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Niemann said. “… The chemistry between the four of us is pretty good since day one. All the practice rounds, the games we do, it’s pretty easy for the four of us to hang out together. I think we knew we could win since the first week. It just came a little bit later than we thought, actually.”
Both the individual and team competitions developed into potential playoffs during a tightly contested final round.
Koepka started the day with a three-shot lead but Muñoz – who opened with a record-tying 62 on Friday – provided constant pressure. He holed out from behind the green at the 16th hole to move within a stroke of the lead. At that point, Torque also tied Smash on the team leaderboard. Pereira then birdied the 17th hole to give Torque the lead.
It ultimately came down to the final hole and the final group. Both Koepka and Muñoz found the green with their approach shots but faced long birdie putts. Both attempts came up well short, giving each player nervy 4-footers to maintain their positions. They both made their par putts, allowing Koepka to celebrate an individual win and Torque to celebrate the team win at the same time.
“I knew it was back-and forth between Torque and us, and then Sebastián, I knew where he was the entire time. It helps playing with him, obviously,” Koepka said. “He battled really hard. .. The fact he just wouldn’t go away was props to him because that’s just competing right there.”
Muñoz shot a final-round 66 to lead the Torque counting scores, with Puig shooting 67 and Pereira shooting 68.
“I just knew that I had Brooks against me, and I couldn’t let him beat me [in counting scores] because I wanted Torque to stay on top,” Muñoz said.
Asked how he balanced the success of the team against coming so close to the individual win, Muñoz replied, “Yeah, I had a moment right now when we were taking pictures. I had a trophy in my hand but finished second. It threw me off. But I’m really proud of what we achieved as a team, and I feel like it’s even tougher to win as a team.”
Meanwhile, Koepka had the same balancing act with Smash coming so close to its second team title. But he doesn’t have time to dwell on the outcome. He and 17 other LIV Golf members will be competing in the season’s first major at the Masters next week.
“I’m very happy to get the win,” Koepka said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the team win, which kind of is a little bittersweet. But look, I’m happy the way I’m playing going into Augusta.”
Here are the standings and counting scores for Sunday’s final round of the team competition at LIV Golf Orlando. The three best scores from each team count in every round for their total team score. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.
1. TORQUE GC (-36): Sebastián Muñoz 66, David Puig 67, Mito Pereira 68 (Rd. 3 score: -12)
2. SMASH GC (-35): Matthew Wolff 67, Brooks Koepka 68, Jason Kokrak 69 (Rd. 3 score: -9)
3. 4ACES GC (-34): Peter Uihlein 65, Dustin Johnson 66, Patrick Reed 67 (Rd. 3 score: -15)
4. STINGER GC (-26): Dean Burmester 64, Branden Grace 70, Charl Schwartzel 70 (Rd. 3 score: -9)
5. CLEEKS GC (-25): Bernd Wiesberger 68, Richard Bland 70, Graeme McDowell 71 (Rd. 3 score: -4)
6. MAJESTICKS GC (-25): Henrik Stenson 66, Sam Horsfield 68, Lee Westwood 69 (Rd. 3 score: -4)
7. FIREBALLS GC (-23): Carlos Ortiz 65, Eugenio Chacarra 66, Sergio Garcia 68 (Rd. 3 score: -14)
8. RANGEGOATS GC (-21): Thomas Pieters 67, Talor Gooch 68, Harold Varner III 68 (Rd. 3 score: -10)
9. HYFLYERS GC (-21): Phil Mickelson 67, Brendan Steele 67, Cameron Tringale 69 (Rd. 3 score: -10)
10. CRUSHERS GC (-19): Bryson DeChambeau 67, Charles Howell III 67, Paul Casey 71 (Rd. 3 score: -8)
11. IRON HEADS GC (-16): Kevin Na 69, Scott Vincent 70, Danny Lee 74 (Rd. 3 score: E)
12. RIPPER GC (-15): Jediah Morgan 67, Marc Leishman 68, Cameron Smith 71 (Rd. 3 score: -7)