2024 LIV Golf Las Vegas Preview, Picks & Analysis
If LIV Golf’s raison d’être was to shake up professional golf and make people sit up and take notice then they have achieved their objective in spades - and continue to do so.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are now being poured into the PGA Tour and it is beginning to look like a framework deal that will allow LIV and the Tour to co-exist has a genuine chance of being put into place. Who knows? The civil war that has ripped our sport apart may even come to an end.
But for now it is business as usual. This week we will see Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Adrian Meronk and Lucas Herbert teeing it up in the breakaway tour’s second tournament of the season in Las Vegas. Rahm came within a whisker of winning on his debut in Mexico and will be looking to put that right this time.
There are those who mourn the departure of Hatton to what he clearly regards as greener pastures. I have to say that I am not one of them. American golf fans cannot get enough of his temper tantrums. Personally, I find it all incredibly tiresome and I am sick to the back teeth of TV commentators having to apologise for his bad language. I do wonder if they would still have the same fascination for Hatton if he was one of their own. Make no mistake, Hatton is a decent golfer but box office he is not. He has a solitary victory on the PGA Tour to his name and I would venture to suggest that he will not be missed.
It will be interesting to see if his demeanour changes as the year unfolds. You would imagine that a man who has just been paid £50m would be able to play 54-hole tournaments with a smile on his face. Then again, LIV would probably love to have somebody who can play the pantomime villain.
I was sorry that Meronk, the best golfer Poland has ever produced, chose to turn his back on the very people who provided him with the platform to show the world what he can do. He won three times on the DP World Tour and it was his performances on that tour in 2023 that earned him a PGA Tour card and the chance to spend 2024 proving his worth in America. What a crying shame it is that Meronk decided to throw that opportunity away.
And there will be consequences for him. He will do well with LIV, of that I am sure, but there are still no ranking points being awarded for their tournaments and that means Meronk will slide down the rankings and miss out on the majors. It is a pity because I am convinced he has the game to seriously contend in golf’s biggest events.
Herbert is an Australian who has enjoyed success on both the PGA and DP World Tours and is another who, for now, can say goodbye to the majors.
When Cameron Smith joined LIV he was second in the world rankings. He is now 32nd. Nobody is ever going to convince me that there are 31 players who are better than Smith. And then there is Dustin Johnson, who has gone from world number one to, wait for it, 202!
As LIV’s schedule expands, their 54 players gather in Vegas a week after playing in Mayakoba and you will not be surprised to learn that there will be plenty of razzamatazz.
They then have to wait almost a month before it kicks off again in Jeddah, followed by a trip to Hong Kong. This is interesting because many of the golfers who joined the tour said they were doing so because they were fed up with the grind of travelling. They have already been to Mexico and will also be heading to Miami, Australia, Singapore, Spain and England. So they will still be claiming plenty of air miles.
Las Vegas Country Club, which hosts this week’s event, is a course that demands accuracy from the tee and is made for Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, who hasn’t had the best time of it since joining LIV in 2022. Talor Gooch, who was last year’s standout player, is another with a game that should suit this course.
LIV’s format has changed slightly. Last year there were 48 golfers - that has increased to 54, with 13 teams of four players and two wild cards at each event.
Each team’s top three scores count for rounds 1 and 2, with all four scores counting for each team in the final round of each event. Players finishing in the top 24 at the end of the regular season secure their 2025 spot in the League. Players finishing 25-48 who are out of contract will need to be re-signed by their team or picked up by another team. Players finishing 49 and below are relegated out of the League and qualify for the 2024 LIV Golf Promotions tournament.
Individual points will again be awarded to the top-24 finishers in each event. Prize money payouts have been adjusted to account for the six players added to the field.
If you want to watch the action you can do so at LIV Golf Plus or the LIV Golf YouTube channel.
Las Vegas Country Club, which opened in 1967, is a par 72 that measures 7,269 yards. It features plenty of water hazards, lots of bunkers and tree-lined fairways. Designed by Edmund B. Ault, renovated by Ron Garl in 1981 and then modernized by Mark Rathert in 2009.
Jon Rahm is the man everybody will expect to utterly dominate proceedings and who am I to disagree? He had a sensational 2023 and I expect this to continue in 2024.
Jon Rahm. All eyes still on the Spaniard
Bryson DeChambeau. Could bring this course to its knees
Lucas Herbert. Wonderful touch around the greens
Five to Follow:
Jon Rahm. A class act on the course
Bryson DeChambeau. Will try to overpower the course
Lucas Herbert. Underrated
Brooks Koepka. One of the best golfers on the planet
Patrick Reed. Difficult to ignore
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