LIV GOLF BANGKOK POWER RANKINGS: 5 PLAYERS, 4 TEAMS
Written by MIKE McALLISTER
BANGKOK, Thailand – A course that measures beyond 7,800 yards. Three par 5s over 600 yards. Five par 4s over 490 yards. “There’s really only two short holes, I think,” Dustin Johnson noted about Stonehill, the new venue hosting this week’s LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok.
Seems like a perfect layout for a long hitter such as DJ, the points leader in the season-long race for the Individual Champion.
“Well,” he said with a smile, “I think any golf course is a good match.”
Indeed. With 29 career wins, including his LIV Golf playoff victory in Boston with an eagle, Johnson usually can figure out most courses. Even ones he’s unfamiliar with and that have just opened.
“There’s just a couple of golf courses I’ve played that for just some reason does not suit me,” he said. “The tee shots, or something else about it. But this one is really nice. It’s long with wide fairways.”
This week’s Power Rankings certainly are influenced by those factors.
TOP FIVE PLAYERS FOR BANGKOK
1. DUSTIN JOHNSON. At this point, he’s essentially a top 5 lock each time he tees it up. Considering the length of the course, the wide fairways and little rough, Stonehill seems like an ideal fit for the 4 Aces GC captain. Plus, he’s definitely incentivized by being able to wrap up the individual champion title early with a win this week.
2. CAMERON SMITH. One shot out of a playoff in his first LIV start. Then a win in his second. The reigning Open champ is going toe-to-toe with Johnson, and that duel should continue at Stonehill. Will be very surprised if the final threesome on Sunday doesn’t include the Punch GC captain.
3. BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU. Another bomber who should find Stonehill to his liking. Fresh off his runner-up finish at the Long Drivers World Championship, the Crushers GC captain is in good spirits coming to Bangkok. He’s yet to finish better than 6th in points in his four LIV starts, but says he’s hitting it well right now. He’ll be in contention this week.
4. BROOKS KOEPKA. Has yet to finish in the top 10 in points in his four LIV starts so … he’s due. Perhaps seeing how his brother Chase performed in Chicago, as well as Smash GC teammate Peter Uihlein (a second place), may help the captain find an extra gear.
5. MATTHEW WOLFF. Sensing a theme here? Another big hitter who should find Stonehill to his liking, as he leads LIV Golf in driving distance with a 322.1 yard average. He’s gotten off to fast starts in the last two events (63 in Boston; 67 in Chicago). His 17th place at Chicago was his worst result of his four LIV starts, so expect a bounce back this week.
OTHERS TO CONSIDER: PHIL MICKELSON found something (mainly, his putter) in the final round at Chicago. He’s eager to make some noise … PETER UIHLEIN has two top 5 finishes this season. His 48% fairways hit, which ties for the worst average in the field, may not hinder him as much this week … Of the two Thai players, PHACHARA KHONGWATMAI has more length off the tee and could ride the support of the home fans.
TOP FOUR TEAMS FOR BANGKOK
1. 4 ACES GC. Patrick Reed’s ability to come up big on Sunday has been huge in extending the win streak to four straight (of course, having DJ firing on all cylinders remains the biggest factor). It was a close call in Chicago (one-stroke victory), but no one should be surprised if the Aces can pull off the 5-peat. Word is that Pat Perez is dialed in. That’s not good news for any other team.
2. SMASH GC. Of the top six players in driving distance average this inaugural season, three play for Smash – captain Brooks Koepka, along with Peter Uihlein and Jason Kokrak. That should be an advantage this week on the 7,815-yard course. If Chase Koepka can build on his final-round performance in Chicago, Smash may have the depth to upend the Aces.
3. HY FLYERS GC. Finally finished in the money for the first time, tying Punch GC for third place in Chicago. Mickelson is trending up; Wolff should do well on a big course; and Cameron Tringale and Bernd Wiesberger offer steady hands.
4. CRUSHERS GC. Fourth in team points this season, the Crushers are the team on the bubble in regards to the four byes in Miami. A big week in Stonehill could produce some breathing room.
OTHERS TO CONSIDER: The all-Australian PUNCH GC is 10th in team points, but with Smith, they still have hope of getting a bye at the Team Championship. Might be a good week for Marc Leishman to find his form … STINGER GC has four top 5 finishes, and its top three of Branden Grace, Charl Schwartzel and captain Louis Oosthuizen provides a level of consistency other teams lack … IRON HEADS GC, with its two Thai players, could ride the wave of support at Stonehill.