Written by
Mike McAllister
Mar 14 2023 - 3 Minutes
Cactus with golf ball

MARANA, Arizona – The LIV Golf League makes its 2023 American debut this week for LIV Golf Tucson, the first of eight U.S. stops on the 14-tournament calendar.

For a handful of players, The Gallery will be a familiar venue, as it hosted a professional match play tournament in 2007-08. Although that was 15 years ago, course superintendent Mark Soto says the South Course hasn’t changed significantly.

“With the exception of the bunker renovation and tee additions, the course remains the same,” Soto said. “The greens remain unchanged from their original construction and grow-in.”

That’s good news for the likes of Henrik Stenson, the winner in 2007 and third-place finisher in 2008, as well as Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Charles Howell III, LIV Golf’s winner in Mayakoba. All seven of those players competed at The Gallery’s South Course in both years.

With that in mind, here are the Power Rankings for this week’s LIV Golf Tucson. Reminder that three scores count in every round toward the team scores.



1. PAUL CASEY (Crushers GC) – Will Crushers go back-to-back with the individual titles? Stingers Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace did it last year to start the Invitational Series season, so it’s certainly not unprecedented. And Casey has a level of comfort with desert golf. Not only did he play collegiately at Arizona State, but he lives in the state. Plus, he played well in multiple match play events in Tucson. He’s also in form after a solid fourth in Mayakoba.

2. CAMERON SMITH (Ripper GC) – A sixth-place in Mayakoba, with a nice 4-under 67 on the final day, was a good indication that Australia’s top player didn’t suffer much rust during the offseason. Nice and relaxed after spending last week doing a little fishing and golfing with buddies, don’t be surprised if he makes a statement this week.

3. BROOKS KOEPKA (Smash GC) – The Smash captain knows how to win in the desert. Among his 16 career wins are two victories in Phoenix and last year’s LIV Golf regular-season finale in Jeddah. Koepka couldn’t get much going at Mayakoba, finishing 31st, but February in Arizona usually treats him well.

4. PETER UIHLEIN (4Aces GC) – Just can’t ignore his recent results – three runner-up finishes in the last four LIV Golf regular-season events. Frankly, you could make a case for any of the 4Aces players (Pat Perez with his desert ties and good form in Mayakoba, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed for bounce-back weeks). But Uihlein’s the guy in form and he nearly won in the desert surroundings of Jeddah last year.

5. PHIL MICKELSON (HyFlyers GC) ­– A sentimental pick? A hunch? Or something more tangible? All of the above went into this choice. No player in the field has had more success in Arizona than the former ASU great, with six of his career 57 wins coming in this state – including his first in Tucson as a 20-year-old amateur. And Mickelson does come off a terrific final round in Mayakoba. He’ll likely be the biggest fan favorite at the Gallery. What a story it would be to see him in contention down the stretch on Sunday.

OTHERS CONSIDERED: As mentioned, Henrik Stenson (Majesticks GC) knows how to succeed on this course better than anyone else in the field. Will likely regret not finding a spot in the top 5 for him … If Mayakoba champ Charles Howell III (Crushers GC) carries over the momentum from his sizzling Sunday in Mexico, he’ll be the first two-time individual champ in LIV Golf’s short history … Branden Grace (Stinger GC) was doing Branden Grace things in Mayakoba with another podium finish. The guy’s a machine.


1. CRUSHERS GC. No reason to think they can’t continue their hot start after winning by nine shots in Mayakoba. Arizona resident Paul Casey is my No. 1 pick this week, and CH3 comes off that victory in Mexico. Anirban Lahiri and captain Bryson DeChambeau didn’t even have great weeks, and they still won handily.

2. MAJESTICKS GC. As noted, Henrik Stenson has won on the South course. Ian Poulter has played well in Tucson and comes off a top-12 finish in Mayakoba. Lee Westwood has plenty of experience here too. The three co-captains should have some fun this week on familiar grounds. And expect Sam Horsfield to bounce back from a tough final round in Mayakoba.

3. 4ACES GC. Peter Uihlein and Pat Perez both supplied top 10 finishes in Mayakoba; don’t be surprised if they pull off the same feat in Tucson. Also, don’t be surprised if captain Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed improve on their results. Oh, and there’s also this – the 4Aces have won every LIV Golf tournament competed on U.S. soil.

4. RIPPER GC. With captain Cameron Smith leading the way, the Rippers always have a podium chance. Marc Leishman looked solid the first two days in Mexico, and Matt Jones has Arizona ties as a former Sun Devil player.

OTHERS CONSIDERED. The revamped Torque GC lineup paid quick dividends in Mayakoba with the team’s first podium finish. … Of the six new LIV Golf players this season, Brendan Steele has the best performance two weeks. That’s good news for HyFlyers GC, who’ll want to push hard for captain Phil Mickelson.