MARANA, Ariz. – DJ, Brooks, Bryson. Together for the first time in a LIV Golf tournament. And maybe ever.
Pairings for Friday’s first round of LIV Golf Tucson don’t get any juicier than the threesome starting at the second hole for the 1:15 p.m. ET (10:15 a.m. local) shotgun start.
Captains Dustin Johnson (4Aces GC), Brooks Koepka (Smash GC) and Bryson DeChambeau (Crushers GC) – who have combined to win seven of the last 26 majors – make up an all-star all-American group for the first U.S.-based tournament of the 2023 LIV Golf League season.
This will be the third time that Johnson and DeChambeau have been in the same LIV group, and the second time that Johnson and Koepka have shared a group. But in the previous 21 regular-season rounds the trio have played since joining LIV Golf, they never filled out the entire threesome. (See chart below.)
It also may be the first time the three big hitters have played as a trio in any professional tournament. Records weren't readily available to check.
"I played with Bryson at Augusta years ago," Koepka said. "I've played with Dustin quite a bit. As a threesome, probably not. I haven't played with Bryson in the last 7 years."
"I've played a bunch with both of them, so it's hard to remember if we've been in the same group," Johnson added.
This will also be the first time that DeChambeau and Koepka have been paired since becoming LIV golfers. But before your mind races back to social jabs and eyerolls and alleged beefs, know this: There is no active feud.
“Believe it or not, we squashed it,” Koepka said last month during a Instagram Q&A for his Smash GC team. “We’re good. I actually talk to him quite frequently because of what’s going on here at LIV. Pretty much on an every-other-day basis. So we’ve got a good open line of communication.
“We’ve figured it all out, and we’re good.”
The threesome should have plenty to talk about during their round, especially with this week’s announcement of a proposed rollback of the golf ball to curtail distances by elite competitors. DeChambeau, Johnson and Koepka rank among the biggest hitters in golf, and DeChambeau said Tuesday that it was a misguided proposal made by the USGA and R&A.
He called it “the most atrocious thing that you could possibly do to the game of golf.” It wouldn’t be surprising if his two playing partners shared similar views.
Meanwhile, the three captains have each experienced success with their respective LIV Golf teams.
Johnson’s 4Aces won five of the eight tournaments, including the season-ending Team Championship in Miami, during the LIV Golf Invitational Series in 2022. Koepka’s Smash GC won the final regular-season event in Jeddah. And DeChambeau’s Crushers come off a nine-stroke win at the season-opening LIV Golf Mayakoba to start the full LIV Golf League season.
Johnson and Koepka also posted individual wins during the inaugural season.
"It doesn't matter who I play with," Koepka said. "I still want to play good golf."
More pairings notes for Friday’s first round:
The threesome starting on the first hole includes Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson (HyFlyers GC), who has won seven times in the state of Arizona; Australian star and reigning Open champion Cameron Smith (Ripper GC); and Mayakoba champion Charles Howell III (Crushers GC).
Five former Arizona State golfers are in the field, and three of them share the same group starting off the 17th tee – Pat Perez (4Aces GC), Paul Casey (Crushers GC) and Matt Jones (Ripper GC).
The 2023 LIV Golf roster has six new faces, including the trio of Thomas Pieters (RangeGoats GC), Mito Pereira (Torque GC) and Brendan Steele (HyFlyers GC). That threesome will start off the 16th tee.
Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka have been paired once in LIV Golf. DJ and Bryson DeChambeau have been paired twice. Here's how they've fared when playing together.
2022 Portland, Rd. 1
Johnson 68, DeChambeau 72
2022 Bedminster, Rd. 1
Koepka 69, Johnson 69
DeChambeau 69, Johnson 70
Shotgun Start at 10:15 a.m. (local), 1:15 p.m. ET
Hole 1 – Charles Howell III (Crushers GC), Phil Mickelson (HyFlyers GC), Cameron Smith (Ripper GC)
Hole 2 – Dustin Johnson (4Aces GC), Brooks Koepka (Smash GC), Bryson DeChambeau (Crushers GC)
Hole 3 – Bubba Watson (RangeGoats GC), Abraham Ancer (Fireballs GC), Louis Oosthuizen (Stinger GC)
Hole 4 – Branden Grace (Stinger GC), Carlos Ortiz (Fireballs GC), Lee Westwood (Majesticks GC)
Hole 5 – Talor Gooch (RangeGoats GC), Matthew Wolff (Smash GC), Marc Leishman (Ripper GC)
Hole 6 – Ian Poulter (Majesticks GC), Harold Varner III (RangeGoats GC), Sebastian Munoz (Torque GC)
Hole 7 – Anirban Lahiri (Crushers GC), Kevin Na (Iron Heads GC), Patrick Reed (4Aces GC)
Hole 9 – Cameron Tringale (HyFlyers GC), Henrik Stenson (Majesticks GC), Jason Kokrak (Smash GC)
Hole 10 – Sam Horsfield (Majesticks GC), Dean Burmester (Stinger GC), Danny Lee (Iron Heads GC)
Hole 11 – Scott Vincent (Iron Heads GC), James Piot (HyFlyers GC), Bernd Wiesberger (Cleeks GC)
Hole 12 – Richard Bland (Cleeks GC), Chase Koepka (Smash GC), David Puig (Torque GC)
Hole 13 – Sihwan Kim (Iron Heads GC), *Laurie Canter (Cleeks GC), Jediah Morgan (Ripper GC)
Hole 15 – Eugenio Chacarra (Fireballs GC), Graeme McDowell (Cleeks GC), Charl Schwartzel (Stinger GC)
Hole 16 – Thomas Pieters (RangeGoats GC), Mito Pereira (Torque GC), Brendan Steele (HyFlyers GC)
Hole 17 – Matt Jones (Ripper GC), Paul Casey (Crushers GC), Pat Perez (4Aces GC)
Hole 18 – Sergio Garcia (Fireballs GC), Peter Uihlein (4Aces GC), Joaquin Niemann (Torque GC)
*-Reserve player for injured Martin Kaymer