What Next For Former US Open Champion Graeme McDowell
The brutal reality of life as a LIV golfer has come home to roost for five golfers who have been cut loose and now face an uncertain future.
And among them is Graeme McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion whose game has been in a sharp downward spiral for some time.
If he thought that things were going to change then he will be a bitterly disappointed man who must now be wondering where he turns next.
A four-time Ryder Cup player who holed the winning putt at Celtic Manor in 2010, he says: “I feel like I’ve been a good spokesman for the league and a good ambassador for the tour and hopefully there is a captain that wants me on his team.”
McDowell has struggled for much of his time on the circuit, with only one top-10 finish, in the inaugural event in London in 2022.
This year, the best he could manage was 12th at Bedminster. Because of that, he’ll be relying on past glories rather than recent form as he seeks possession of a new contract rather than a ticket to Abu Dhabi for the LIV Golf Promotions event.
Five players have been offered contract extensions thanks to their places in the top 24 of the individual standings (the Lock Zone).
However, five more out-of-contract players who finished between 25th and 44th (the Open Zone) will not have the luxury of an automatic contract extension.
That means they will need to either persuade their existing teams that they are worthy of retention, negotiate with another team with an open slot in its roster, or, failing that, strive for a top-three finish in December’s LIV Golf Promotions event.
It also hasn’t gone to plan for Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, a man who must have expected an easy ride with LIV. After all, he is an eight-time winner of the DP World Tour and represented Europe at the Ryder Cup in 2021.
His LIV Golf career has been bitterly disappointing. In 2022, his best finish came with eighth in Jeddah and, despite playing several more tournaments over the year in the 2023 LIV Golf League season, it remains his only top-10 finish. The best Wiesberger had to show for this season was 11th, again in the Saudi Arabian city. While that was encouraging, it could be a case of too little too late with it coming in the last of the regular events of the season.
The others to be cast off are Pat Perez, David Puig and Matt Jones.
When LIV Golf began, Perez was 46 and could hardly be regarded as a marquee signing. Indeed, he was more famous for his temper than for his play, despite winning three times on the PGA Tour. And it should surprise nobody that he has failed to deliver.
Jones, of Australia, is another who was in his 40s when he signed on the dotted line. A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, he spent more than five years in the top 100 in the world rankings during a career that spans more than 20 years.
He managed just one top-10 finish in 2023, seventh in the second tournament of the season, in Tucson, but he only made the top 20 in one other event, while coming 42nd at LIV Golf Adelaide in his homeland was particularly disappointing.
A golfer who took a real gamble was Puig, who joined LIV straight from the amateur ranks, having been identified as a star of the future. It hasn’t worked out that way.
The Spaniard has managed just two top-10 finishes - at Valderrama and Greenbrier.
These golfers probably all thought that the fairways were paved with gold but all now face some pretty uncertain times. It just goes to show that you should be careful what you wish for.
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