Captains, Teammates Grouped For First Time At LIV Golf Adelaide

GRANGE, Australia – Groupings for Friday’s opening round of LIV Golf Adelaide at The Grange Golf Club include a couple of firsts in LIV Golf’s short history:

  • Captains are playing together in the first four groups for the first time
  • All other teammates are playing together in the same group for the first time

Although there have been all-captain threesomes at previous LIV Golf events, the 12 captains have never been grouped specifically in four consecutive threesomes. The threesome starting on hole No. 1 Friday includes Ripper GC’s Cameron Smith, Smash GC’s (and LIV Golf Orlando winner) Brooks Koepka, and Majesticks GC co-captain Ian Poulter.

The other captain-only threesomes include Torque GC’s Joaquin Niemann, 4Aces GC’s Dustin Johnson and RangeGoats GC’s Bubba Watson starting on No. 2; Stinger GC’s Louis Oosthuizen, Iron Heads GC’s Kevin Na and Cleeks GC’s Martin Kaymer on hole No. 3; and Crushers GC’s Bryson DeChambeau, Fireballs GC’s Sergio Garcia and HyFlyers GC’s Phil Mickelson on hole No. 3.

The shotgun start Friday is set for 11:45 a.m. local time.

No threesome in the seven regular-season events of the inaugural 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Series or the first three events of this year’s League season ever included three players from the same team. This first-time approach at Adelaide means that local fans who are supporting the all-Australian Ripper GC team can choose to either follow Smith in the first group, or his three Ripper teammates – Marc Leishman, Matt Jones and Jediah Morgan – who will tee off in the group on hole No. 18.

While teammates are used to playing practice rounds with each other, the pairings on competition days could provide an additional benefit.

“If there’s any kind of nerves or pressure, it would take that off,” said Smash GC’s Jason Kokrak, grouped with teammates Matthew Wolff and Chase Koepka on hole No. 11. “We play a lot of practice rounds together. We know each other’s games. I think we’re comfortable with each other. That goes team-wide for everybody, I would think.

“It’s going to be fun. Something different.”

As a team, Smash leads the League in lowest first-round scoring average at 68.3.

Abraham Ancer, who has prior success in Australia – he won the 2018 Australian Open at The Lakes in Sydney – also looks forward to playing with familiar faces. Ancer will play with Fireballs GC teammates Carlos Ortiz and Eugenio Chacarra starting on the 16th hole.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun but also really motivating for each other to play better,” Ancer said. “Hopefully nobody gets off to a rough start, but we’ll be trying to pick each other up. Hopefully feed off each other, make some birdies and just keep it going. I think that’s the mentality it’s going to be.”

Johnson’s 4Aces GC, the defending Team Champions from 2022, lead the team standings after three events, having finished second in the first two tournaments and third in Orlando. The threesome of Patrick Reed, Pat Perez and Peter Uihlein start on the 10th hole Friday.

“We’re just trying to get that first win of the season,” Johnson said. “I think it’s looking pretty good for this week.”

Kaymer is making his first start of the 2023 LIV Golf League season after missing the first three events while recovering from offseason wrist surgery.

“We’re excited to have him back,” said Cleeks teammate Graeme McDowell. “Hopefully we can get some continuity going now and start getting ourselves on some leaderboards.”

GRANGE, Australia – All eyes will be on the four members of Ripper GC this week. The all-Australian team captained by reigning Open champion Cameron Smith will receive the majority of the support at The Grange Golf Club.

The question is whether that will translate for the team’s first-ever victory.

At 6,946 yards, the par-72 Grange ­– a composite layout that essentially utilizes the back nines of the East and West courses (save for one hole) – will not require a big power game. The course is fairly tight and the 2-1/2 inch rough should be a factor.

On the other hand, depending on the setup, there may be as many as three drivable par 4s (the 4th, 8th and 18th holes) that will provide opportunities for those able to add a bit of muscle.

Solid putters should have a successful week at The Grange. That’s good news for Smith, who ranks second in the LIV Golf League in putting behind Iron Heads GC captain Kevin Na. It’s also good news for the Rippers, who rank tied for first (with Fireballs GC) as a team in putting.

Of course, not everything goes as planned. It’ll be fascinating to see how things play out Down Under this week.

CAMERON SMITH

5 PLAYERS

1. CAMERON SMITH (Ripper GC). Wish his recent results could inspire more confidence, but it’s difficult to ignore Australia’s best golfer and one of golf’s best putters playing with a purpose in his home country.

2. PATRICK REED (4Aces GC). Tied for third in Orlando, then tied for fourth at the Masters. Just feel like he’s on the verge of closing in on his first LIV Golf title.

3. ABRAHAM ANCER (Fireballs GC). His best points finish this season is 17th, so maybe not an obvious pick. But he has prior success in Australia, having won the 2018 Aussie Open. And a little birdie told me this course is suited for him.

4. PETER UIHLEIN (4Aces GC). Three top-10 point finishes this season and was 10 under in the final two rounds at Orlando, best in the field in that stretch.

5. BROOKS KOEPKA (Smash GC). Based purely on form, he should really be the top pick – a win in LIV Golf Orlando, a T2 at the Masters. The only worry here is a post-major hangover.

OTHERS CONSIDERED: HyFlyers GC Captain Phil Mickelson comes off a spectacular finish at the Masters and hopes to ride that momentum … Matthew Wolff has been Smash GC’s most consistent performer, and he’s among the League’s top putters … Fireballs GC’s Carlos Ortiz has not finished worse than ninth in points this season … Two-time Australian Open winner Matt Jones could be the under-the-radar Ripper to emerge on Sunday.

Matt Jones

4 TEAMS

1. 4ACES GC. They haven’t won this season, and they’ve never won outside the U.S. And yet there they are, atop the points standings after three events and with the lowest cumulative stroke average (69.3). Meet the perfect team to play spoiler this week in front of the pro-Ripper crowd.

2. RIPPER GC. They want it bad. But do they want it too much? The expectations are sky-high, but so are the off-course demands. Captain Cameron Smith said he and his Aussie teammates will need to make sure and manage their time in order to properly prepare. If they pull it off? The party will be epic.

3. SMASH GC. Brooks Koepka & Co. were disappointed to finish as runners-up in Orlando, and Chase will improve on his individual performance.

4. TORQUE GC. Newcomers Sebastian Munoz and Mito Pereira have produced four top-8 point finishes for the Orlando winners. Captain Joaquin Niemann hasn’t yet reached full speed, so the team still has an extra gear or two.

OTHERS CONSIDERED: HyFlyers GC has three veteran players who can adapt quickly to unfamiliar courses … Stinger GC is the “other” all-Southern Hemisphere team and has finished fourth in all three starts this year.

*Credit Information and Images www.livgolf.com

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