MIAMI – LIV Golf held its 2024 Media Week last week in Miami, with players from every team attending. Season previews will be forthcoming, but here are a few odds and ends after speaking with nearly all participants.
BRYSON’S 3-WOOD: Bryson DeChambeau’s switch to a Krank Golf driver was the key equipment move of the 2023 season, as it improved the defending team champion Crushers GC captain’s confidence off the tee with increased accuracy.
He also tried using a Krank 3-wood, but it performed like a 5-wood for him. So now he’s working with the Krank team to build a 3-wood that fits his needs.
“We’re making a proper 3-wood – it’s a mini-driver,” DeChambeau said. “Essentially, that’s what it is, so it will be really cool. It’ll be one that suits me.”
Prototypes have been built, and DeChambeau said the next step will be to just hit them. “It’ll be in my bag for Mayakoba,” he said.
BROOKS WITHOUT CHASE: When Brooks Koepka tees off in the season opener at LIV Golf Mayakoba next month, it will be the first time he’s played a LIV Golf event without younger brother Chase as a Smash GC teammate.
Chase Koepka was among the four players relegated after the 2023 season after failing to finish in the top 44 in the season-long points standings.
“Yeah, it’s a little different,” Brooks said. “It’s weird. Today, somebody asked about him and I was like, ‘Oh, but he’s not here.’ Obviously, it sucks, but he’s got to figure out what he wants to do with his life, whether he wants to keep playing or where he wants to go with it.
“But I love the kid; I’ll always support him.”
BUBBA’S PUTTING: From a statistical standpoint, RangeGoats GC Captain Bubba Watson played solidly from tee to green in 2023 in his return following knee surgery. He finished 13th in driving distance and 10th in fairway accuracy and was 6th in greens in regulation.
But on the greens? He ranked 48th in the League in putting average. That’s last in that category. The good news is that there’s only direction to go from there in 2024.
“I’m not saying I would ever have been a great putter … but dead last is not where I want to be or should be,” Watson said.
“What I realized is that I was putting so much pressure on myself trying to make it right, trying to do this. I drove the ball better that I’ve ever driven it. I got new irons, started hitting those irons really well. Obviously in Miami, it showed me a lot when I shot a bogey-free 5-under in the final round.
“I’ve just got to keep my focus on keeping my heads down for these putts. That’s all I thought about in Miami, and I putted well and played well there.”
NEW HYFLYERS LOGO: The HyFlyers have a redesigned logo. Credit Phil Mickelson’s wife Amy with having significant input on the design.
“I like the simplicity of it,” the HyFlyers captain said. “And when we got rid of the ‘F’ and made it just the ‘H’ and kept the triangle, it almost looks like it’s wings. Or it looks like a heart. So, I like the look of it in the application when it’s on a shirt and a hat even better than I did before.”
REED AND MAJORS: Patrick Reed won the Masters in 2018, which gave him a five-year exemption into the other majors. Those five years are up, which means he enters 2024 with just one major set for his playing schedule, as a past champion at Augusta National.
If necessary, he said he’ll go through qualifying to get into the U.S. Open and Open Championships. Of course, there’s another way to gain entry into all the majors.
“Hopefully, that first one, the Masters,” Reed said. “I’ve played well there in the past. I’ve won there before. The plans are to go out there and get another ‘W’ and everything will take care of itself. As I’ve said, winning takes care of everything.”
FIREBALLS’ LONE LOBO: With the departure of his 2020 Olympic teammate Carlos Ortiz and the arrival of David Puig, Abraham Ancer is now the lone player from Mexico on the Fireballs GC roster. Puig joins Captain Sergio Garcia and holdover Eugenio Chacarra as the Spanish trio in the lineup.
“I’m surrounded by Spaniards, which I think is pretty cool,” Ancer said. “Super passionate, super fiery guys and extremely competitive, which I think is going to definitely help the team just get better.”
CASEY IN FINLAND: Thanks to the extended offseason, the Crushers’ Paul Casey finally had a proper Christmas holiday with his family. The destination? Finland.
“Saw Santa, saw Father Christmas and reindeer and stuff like that,” Casey said. “That’s an amazing thing after so many years, playing multiple tours. It’s full gas, it’s go all the time. I feel very refreshed and energized and a lot of that’s to do with having an offseason.”
Casey enjoyed the trip to Helsinki and to Lapland, even though it was only daylight about two hours each day. “I like the place. I like the people. Winter markets, and Lapland,” Casey said. “Saw the elves. Hey, elves are real!”
SWEDE VS. FINN: Speaking of Finland, LIV Golf has its first Finnish player as a league member with Kalle Samooja earning a spot at last month’s LIV Golf Promotions event.
That means Majesticks GC Co-Captain Henrik Stenson is no longer the lone Scandinavian player in LIV fields.
“Even though the Swedes and the Fins always have a little bit of rivalry, it’s normally in ice hockey,” Stenson said. “We’ll see how much it is in golf.
“Sweden is kind of the big brother of Scandinavia. We have the soccer fights with the Danes. We have cross country and all the winter sports with the Norwegians. And we have the ice hockey with the Fins. So, we’re getting attacked on all angles.”
CHACARRA’S NEW COACH: Fireballs GC’s Eugenio Chacarra has a new coach in Donnie Darr, who was an assistant on the Oklahoma State men’s team when Chacarra was in Stillwater. Darr will also be Chacarra’s caddie this season.
“I’m very excited,” Chacarra said. “I think he’s going to help me a lot to not waste shots that I do just because I’m young. We had a lot of good records when I was in college.”
TORQUE’S BET: Torque GC won four team trophies last year, but no individual ones. Joaquin Niemann’s team started a bet on which player would be the first one to celebrate an individual victory.
“It’s still going,” said Sebastián Muñoz.
So, what’s the bet?
“Undisclosed,” he said with a smile.