Four more teams revealed their lineups for the LIV Golf League’s first full season that tees off at Mayakoba in Mexico on February 23, making it eight in all so far to have named their personnel.
Anirban Lahiri continues with Bryson DeChambeau’s Crushers GC, while Cameron Smith’s team have rebranded themselves as the Rippers and completed an all-Aussie cast for the 2023 opener.
Austrian veteran Bernd Wiesberger completes the Martin Kaymer-led Cleeks GC roster while the Spanish-speaking Fireballs led by Sergio Garcia will continue with their 2022 personnel.
First-season toppers 4 Aces are unchanged, captain Dustin Johnson –also the individual topper last year – lining up alongside Patrick Reed, Pat Perez and Peter Uihlein, while Ian Poulter’s Majesticks will continue to have Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood and Sam Horsfield in the ranks.
Brooks Koepka’s Smash GC have stayed with Chase Koepka, Jason Kokrak and Matthew Wolff, and Torque GC have onboarded Chilean star Mito Pereira alongside captain and countryman Joaquin Neimann, David Puig and Sebastian Munoz. Another team with plenty of Latin dash.
Four side – HyFlyers, Iron Heads, the rebranded Rangegoats and Stinger GC – are expected to unveil their 2023 players early next week.
The new season will see 14 tournaments in all, and retain the three-day 54-hole shotgun format used in 2022.
The four teams named on Thursday in brief:
Replacing their old moniker of Punch GC, Cameron Smith’s team have relaunched as the Rippers, more in keeping with their all-Australian line up that includes Marc Leishman, Matt Jones and now, 23-year-old Queenslander Jediah Morgan.
Morgan played for Punch briefly in 2022 and also Torque, and with an LIV Golf League event slotted for April 20 to 22 in Adelaide, the switch has been a timely one and will also resonate with fans Down Under.
Last year, Smith’s team finished second to Johnson’s 4 Aces by a single shot in the final.
Anirban Lahiri stays with the Crushers with DeChambeau not needing to do much with one of the most consistent teams in the opening season, particularly towards the end.
With Paul Casey, Lahiri and Charles Howell III, the Crushers took three podiums in the final four tournaments though they are yet to win despite coming close.
DeChambeau had health issues in 2022 but is back to full fitness. “If I start playing better,” said The Professor, “We’re going to win a lot.”
Bernd Wiesberger’s addition now means that Cleeks GC will have three players with Ryder Cup experience on the rolls. The 37-year-old was part of the 2021 team while Kaymer and Graeme McDowell have played the Ryder Cup four times each.
Fourth member Richard Bland, 50, has played the golf of his life over the kast two years and was the leading points scorer for the Cleeks. The all-European squad reached the semi-finals last year minus Kaymer, and will be keen to do better this time.
With one win, at Bangkok last season, the Spanish-speaking Fireballs have kept a talented group together and skipper Sergio Garcia is showing good signs of form with a fifth place finish at the International Series in Oman after knee surgery during the break.
Abraham Ancer has already claimed a title, at the lucrative PIF Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers in his second start of 2023.
Carlos Ortiz and Bangkok individual winner Eugenio Chacarra complete the roster, making it two each from Spain (Garcia, Chacarra) and Mexico (Ancer, Ortiz) and are looking forwards to the events in Mexico and Spain (Valderrama).
“The Fireballs team, we’re really, really excited to go to Mayakoba and Valderrama,” Ancer said.
New experience for Tiger
Tiger Woods, one of the leading voices supporting the PGA Tour, has said he did not know what to expect on meeting LIV Golf players during Augusta Masters, who will stick to last year’s rankings and thus include members of the breakaway league.
Speaking ahead of the Genesis Invitational which he hosts in California, the 82-time PGA Tour winner said when asked about the possibility, “That's a great question because I don't know because I haven't been around them.
“Some of the players out here (at Pacific Palisades) have. For instance, Rory was in Dubai with some of those players. I don't know, I don't know what that reaction's going to be.
“I know that some of our friendships have certainly taken a different path, but we'll see when all that transpires. That is still a couple months away.”
And on whether he still saw LIV Golf as a threat, or less of one now after a completed season, Tiger pointed out, “The past year since, if you go back to this week at Genesis last year to where it's at now, we all have to say it's been very turbulent.
“We never would have expected the game of golf to be in this situation, but it is, that's the reality, and I was alluding to trying to create the best product. Obviously, they're a competitive organization trying to create their best product they possibly can, and we're trying to create the best product that we think the future of golf, how it should be played.
“How do we do that? We're still working on that. We have so many of the top players aligned, and how do we support our world partners and the DP World Tour, we need to have our top players understand we need to play around the world and again create the best product possible.
“It's been an ebb and flow, it really has. And it's been difficult, there's no lie. You've seen our ambassador, Rory, go through it. It's been tough on him, but he's been exceptional. To be able to go
through all that, I've been with him on all those conference calls and side meetings, and for him to go out there and play and win, it's been incredible.
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