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QUICK LOOK AT 16 LIV PLAYERS IN THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

News
Written by
Mike McAllister
May 17 2023
- 8 min
Tulsa PGA Group Shot PGA

In the build-up to this week’s PGA Championship, Brooks Koepka used a word that many athletes rarely utter.

Asked on Wednesday about his finish at last month’s Masters, in which he led after 54 holes before shooting a final-round 75 to tie for second, Koepka said, “It is choking, right? If you have a lead and cough it up, that’s choking.”

Just as quickly, though, the four-time major winner told the on-site media he is not dwelling on the negatives from Augusta. “I’ve been in the lead, that position a couple of times and haven’t capitalized,” the Smash GC captain said. “I can’t do it every single time. I’m not perfect. As long as I can learn from it, I’ll be better off from it.”

Koepka gets his first chance to apply those lessons at Oak Hill, where he and 15 other LIV Golf League members are in the 156-man field. It’s the second major in this year’s golf calendar, and Koepka – along with several other LIV stars, including last week’s winner in Tulsa, Dustin Johnson – are in excellent form and eager to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday evening in upstate New York.

Here’s a quick look at each of the 16 LIV players in the field, with odds from DraftKings (Paul Casey and Martin Kaymer were also exempt but had to withdraw due to injuries):

BROOKS KOEPKA

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T11 (Adelaide), 3rd (Singapore), T5 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 10 career starts, Koepka has two wins and three other top 10s, including a T2 in 2021. His first PGA start was at Oak Hill in 2013, when he finished T70.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 35 starts/4 wins (2017 U.S. Open, 2018 U.S. Open, 2018 PGA, 2019 PGA)

OUTLOOK: After winning LIV Golf Orlando and then tying for second the following week at the Masters, Koepka has maintained his excellent form between majors. Add in his track record in the PGA, as well as his penchant for raising his game at the majors, and it’s no wonder he’s among the favorites at Oak Hill.
ODDS TO WIN: 20-1


DUSTIN JOHNSON

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: 10th (Adelaide), T23 (Singapore), Win (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 13 career starts, Johnson has two runner-up finishes (2019, 2020) and four other top 10s. He’s missed the cut in his last two PGA starts. In 2013 at Oak Hill, he finished T8.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 54 starts/2 wins (2016 U.S. Open, 2020 Masters)

OUTLOOK: Fresh off his playoff win in Tulsa, DJ appears to be firing on all cylinders now after a slow start to the season due to back issues. “Obviously, my last couple events, it’s kind of been trending in the right direction,” he said. His flatstick finally cooperated at Cedar Ridge, as he led the field in putting. Another hot week on the greens could result in the third leg of the career slam.
ODDS TO WIN: 30-1


CAMERON SMITH

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T3 (Adelaide), T6 (Singapore), T2 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 7 career starts, Smith’s best finish is T13 last year.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 26 starts/1 win (2022 Open)

OUTLOOK: His most recent win was the Australian PGA in his hometown of Brisbane last November, and he’d dearly love to add the American version. His game is in excellent form, the proof being his final-round 9-under 61 in Tulsa that tied a LIV record low and got him in the playoff.
ODDS TO WIN: 35-1

TALOR GOOCH

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: Win (Adelaide), Win (Singapore), T36 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 3 career starts, Gooch’s best finish is T20 last year.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 9 starts/T14 (2022 Masters)

OUTLOOK: His recent back-to-back wins – a first in LIV Golf – certainly makes him an intriguing candidate. Didn’t have the kind of result he’d hoped for in his home state, but plenty of off-course engagements likely wore him down. He’ll need to concentrate strictly on golf this week.
ODDS TO WIN: 65-1


JOAQUIN NIEMANN

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T30 (Adelaide), T8 (Singapore), T8 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 5 career starts, Niemann’s best finish is T23 last year.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 16 starts/T16 (2023 Masters)

OUTLOOK: Chile’s top player has been more competitive in recent weeks, and it was just 15 months ago that he won at Riviera. He posted his best major result last month at Augusta National, a sign that perhaps he’s ready to make some noise in the majors.
ODDS TO WIN: 65-1


PATRICK REED

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T3 (Adelaide), T13 (Singapore), T11 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 9 career starts, Reed’s best finish is T2 in 2017.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 36 starts/1 win (2018 Masters)

OUTLOOK: He’s shown some nice consistency the last few months. He followed his T4 at the Masters with his first podium finish of the season in Adelaide, and he comes off a 6-under 64 in the final round at Tulsa. He’ll need to perform off the tee with the accuracy he displayed in Rd. 3 in Tulsa (79%) rather than Rd. 1 (29%).
ODDS TO WIN: 90-1


MITO PEREIRA

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T26 (Adelaide), 5th (Singapore), T30 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In his PGA Championship debut last year, Pereira tied for third after entering the final round with a 3-stroke lead.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 5 starts/T3 (2022 PGA)

OUTLOOK: Obviously a heartbreaking result for Pereira last year, as he led with one hole left before a double bogey dropped him one shot out of the playoff. He’ll need to utilize the positives of that week in hopes of making a similar run at Oak Hill. He has three top 6 results in his six LIV starts, so the game is there.
ODDS TO WIN: 110-1

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T26 (Adelaide), T19 (Singapore), T5 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 5 career starts, DeChambeau’s lone top 10 is T4 in 2020.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 25 starts/1 win (2020 U.S. Open)

OUTLOOK: It’s been a struggle to find his form this season, but the endless hours DeChambeau has spent on the range may finally be paying off. He was in contention going into the final round at Tulsa and his T5 was his best finish in his LIV career. In a good sign, he hit 64% of his fairways in Tulsa, about 10 percentage points better than his season average.
ODDS TO WIN: 110-1


HAROLD VARNER III

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T11 (Adelaide), T8 (Singapore), 4th (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 5 career starts, Varner’s best finish is T29 in 2020.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 13 starts/T23 (2022 Masters)

OUTLOOK: Produced his best LIV finish in Tulsa and tied a LIV-record low by shooting 61 in the final round in which he was 10 under with four holes to play. He’s playing some of his best golf and could have just enough power off the tee to give him a fighter’s chance.

ODDS TO WIN: 200-1


ABRAHAM ANCER

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T11 (Adelaide), 47th (Singapore), T23 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 4 career starts, Ancer has two top 10s – T8 in 2021, followed by T9 last year.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 15 starts, T8 (2021 PGA)

OUTLOOK: Still seeking to find his form, as he’s yet to make much noise in the first six events this season. His ability to find fairways – he ranks second in the League in driving accuracy at 74% – will help him avoid Oak Hill’s high rough but he ranks just T38th in putting, so he’ll need the flatstick to heat up.
ODDS TO WIN: 200-1

PHIL MICKELSON

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T11 (Adelaide), T13 (Singapore), T45 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 29 career starts, Mickelson has won twice – in 2005 and 2021. He became the oldest winner to win a men’s major when he won the 2021 PGA at age 50.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 118 starts/6 wins (2004 Masters, 2005 PGA, 2006 Masters, 2010 Masters, 2013 Open, 2021 PGA)

OUTLOOK: Making his first PGA Championship start since his historic win two years ago and should be feeling good about his game after his sizzling final round at the Masters left him tied for second with Koepka. Played well in Australia and Singapore but ranked last in driving accuracy and near the bottom in putting in Tulsa. Tough to tell what to expect at Oak Hill but no one should be surprised if he’s in contention late Sunday.
ODDS TO WIN: 250-1


DEAN BURMESTER

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T7 (Adelaide), T41 (Singapore), T8 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 2 career starts, Burmester’s best finish is T59 in 2021.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 6 starts/T11 (2022 Open)

OUTLOOK: Has the kind of power game that could flourish at Oak Hill, but he’ll need more accuracy off the tee to avoid the penal rough. He’s flashed some impressive performances since joining LIV Golf this season and could be a sleeper pick after helping his Stinger GC team win a trophy in Tulsa.
ODDS TO WIN: 300-1


BRENDAN STEELE

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T26 (Adelaide), T27 (Singapore), T11 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 9 career starts, Steele’s best finish is T9 last year.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 22 starts/T9 (2022 PGA)

OUTLOOK: One of LIV Golf’s top drivers – Mickelson leans on him for advice – Steele hasn’t been completely happy with his performance off the tee recently. Still, he was in contention entering the final round in Tulsa. His career-best major performance in last year’s PGA should put him in a terrific frame of mind entering this week.
ODDS TO WIN: 300-1


THOMAS PIETERS

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: T32 (Adelaide), T23 (Singapore), T16 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 6 career starts, Pieters’ best finish is T6 in 2018.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 19 starts/T4 (2017 Masters)

OUTLOOK: The big bomber from Belgium has not been in contention since joining LIV Golf before the season, so he’ll need to find another gear in Oak Hill. He ranks near the bottom of the League in fairways hit and GIR but has displayed a nice touch on the greens.
ODDS TO WIN: 300-1


ANIRBAN LAHIRI

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: 2nd (Adelaide), T19 (Singapore), T11 (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 6 career starts, Lahiri’s best finish is T5 in 2015 when he posted the best major result of any professional golfer from India.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 17 starts/T5 (2015 PGA)

OUTLOOK: Great to see India’s top golfer in the field, and the PGA always brings back memories of his 2015 performance. More recently, his play in Australia was a positive sign, as shot a final-round 65 to finish second and apply unexpected pressure on Talor Gooch.

ODDS TO WIN: 350-1


SIHWAN KIM

LAST 3 LIV GOLF STARTS: 47th (Adelaide), 45th (Singapore), 43rd (Tulsa)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: Making his PGA debut this week.

MAJOR STARTS/BEST FINISH: 1/MC (2022 Open)

OUTLOOK: He’s in the field thanks to his No. 3 spot in the International Federation Ranking list. It’s been a challenging season so far for Kim, but he does come off his best back-to-back LIV rounds in 2023, a couple of 68s in Tulsa.
ODDS TO WIN: 2500-1