TEAM CONCEPT, SHOTGUN START PART OF THE ALLURE FOR PLAYERS AS LIV GOLF DEBUTS
Written by LIV GOLF
Golf’s new era begins Thursday with the inaugural event of the LIV Golf Invitational Series at the Centurion Club.
The field of 48 players will compete in the three-round, 54-hole no-cut event that features a unique team competition as well as individual stroke play, with prize money totaling $25 million, including $4 million to the individual winner at the completion of Saturday’s play.
Each round begins with a 2:15 p.m. (local time) shotgun shot, yet another key aspect in LIV Golf’s goal to bring golf into the future.
“Ever since I was first introduced to this idea, I thought it was great for the game of golf,” said American Dustin Johnson, one of six major champions in the field. “I was excited about a new format .. a new kind of golf that I think is great for the game. It’s great for the fans. I think it’s going to be very exciting.”
“It’s just something fresh and fun,” added another major champion, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell. “Speaking personally from my point of view, it’s been energizing to kind of have this opportunity in front of us.”
“It was time for a change,” said South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen when asked why he joined LIV Golf. “It was time to do something different.”
“I like the concept of LIV Golf,” said former world No. 1 Lee Westwood. “I think it’s exactly what golf needs.”
“This is the beginning of something very cool for the golf world,” said nine-time winner Kevin Na.
The addition of the team competition also has captured the interest of players. Twelve appointed team captains take part in a snake-order draft to determine the three open positions for each of their 12 four-man teams.
The best two scores from each team in the first two rounds, along with the best three scores in the final round, will be used to determine the team winners.
Each team also has its own name and branding.
“The team element this week is that unique factor,” McDowell said.
“To be able to be part of a four-man team and go out there and know it’s not just for yourself – it means you guys do well as a team this week as well,” Oosthuizen noted. “I think that’s exciting. It’s a pity that we don’t have more golf events like that all over the world.”
Westwood was one of three players selected by Ian Poulter, the captain of Majesticks GC. “It was fun,” Westwood said. “I’ve never been involved in a draft before. It was something very different.”
Play will commence each day in threesomes at 16 of the 18 holes at the Centurion Club. The only two holes that will not be used on the shotgun start are the par-4 ninth and the par-3 11th.
With all 48 players on the course at the same time, that will eliminate the possibility of players ending up on the wrong side of the draw. It also means a compact viewing schedule, with constant action over the entire course.
“I definitely like the shotgun start,” Johnson said. “It’s great for TV. It’s great for the players.”
At golf’s most recent major, Talor Gooch said he was on the wrong side of the draw. “So, the shotgun start is very enticing on my end,” he said.
Phil Mickelson, winner of 57 professional tournaments, is making his return to competitive golf. He has not played since Feb. 6 when he finished T-18 at the PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers on the Asian Tour.
Dustin Johnson remains in search of his first victory in 2022. The former world No. 1 has won at least one worldwide event in 13 of the previous 14 years.
Former world No. 1 Lee Westwood is among six English golfers looking to win on their home soil. Westwood has 44 worldwide wins in his professional career.
James Piot is making his third start since turning pro in May. Piot won the 2021 U.S. Amateur and recently graduated from Michigan State.
Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent is looking for his third consecutive win in as many weeks. Vincent won in Japan two weeks ago and last week claimed the International Series England at Slaley Hall in England. It was the first Asian Tour event to be staged in the United Kingdom.
Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai was 14 when he became the youngest winner to win a professional event in 2013. Another Thai player, Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat was 15 when he recently became the youngest winner of an Official World Golf Ranking event. Both are in the field this week.
FIELD BY THE NUMBERS
1 – World Golf Hall of Famer in Phil Mickelson.
3 – Former world No. 1 players in Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood.
4 – Past U.S. Amateur champions in Phil Mickelson (1990), Peter Uihlein (2010), Andy Ogletree (2019), James Piot (2021).
7 – Major champions in Sergio Garcia (1), Dustin Johnson (2), Martin Kaymer (2), Graeme McDowell (1), Phil Mickelson (6), Louis Oosthuizen (1), Charl Schwartzel (1).
18 – Players ranked inside the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking: Dustin Johnson (15), Louis Oosthuizen (21), Kevin Na (34), Talor Gooch (35), Sergio Garcia (57), Richard Bland (67), Shaun Norris (68), Matt Jones (69), Pablo Larrazabal (70), Phil Mickelson (72), Sam Horsfield (74), Lee Westwood (78), Ryosuke Kinoshita (89), Scott Vincent (91), Ian Poulter (92), Bernd Wiesberger (94), Hudson Swafford (95) and Oliver Bekker (96).
FIELD BY AGES
Thailand’s Rachanon “TK” Chantananuwat is the youngest player in this week’s field at age 15. Phil Mickelson is the oldest player at age 51. Mickelson, captain of the Hy Flyers team, selected Chantananuwat as one of his draft picks.
A breakdown of the field by age:
19 and younger: 1
50 or older: 1
Twelve countries are represented in the 48-player field at the Centurion Club.
11 – United States
9 – South Africa
6 – Australia
6 – England
4 – Spain
4 – Thailand
3 – Japan
1 – Austria
1 – Germany
1 – India
1 – Northern Ireland
1 – Zimbabwe
The Centurion Club, designed by Simon Gidman and opened in 2013, will play to a par 70 at 7,047 yards. The three par-5 holes are part of a six-hole stretch between holes 13 through 18. Of the five par 3s, the shortest is the 138-yard 17th and the longest is the 208-yard 14th. There is one par 4 longer than 500 yards – the 511-yard 4th.
According to forecasts from chief meteorologist Jake Swick, no weather impact is expected for either Thursday’s first round or Saturday’s final round, while Friday’s second round is considered a low impact. A small amount of rain is in Thursday’s forecast. Friday’s outlook remains gusty, with Saturday being potentially the warm day, reaching 70 degrees F/21 degrees C.