LIV Golf Invitational Series: Who are the latest big names to sign up ahead of Portland event?

By Sports Desk June 29, 2022

There will be some high-profile debutants when the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event to be staged in the United States starts on Thursday.

Three weeks after the inaugural LIV competition at the Centurion Club, near London, took place, 48 players have headed to Portland to tee off at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

A trio of major champions will appear in the controversial Saudi-backed breakaway league for the first time in Oregon.

Stats Perform takes a look at the standout new faces who have turned their back on the PGA Tour to make their bows in a three-day LIV Golf Invitational Portland tournament that consists of 12 teams.

 

BROOKS KOEPKA

Brooks Koepka is the biggest name to have signed up since his fellow Americans Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson played in the opening event in England.

The four-time major winner will captain a SMASH GC side that includes his brother, Chase, this week.

Koepka had tried to fend off questions about whether he would jump ship from the PGA Tour to commit to LIV Golf ahead of the recent U.S. Open.

"I haven't given it that much thought," he said when asked if he could sign up for a lucrative deal to play on the new tour. "I don't understand. I'm trying to focus on the U.S. Open, man. I legitimately don't get it. You can’t drive a car looking in the rearview mirror, can you?"

Just a fortnight on, the former world number one said in a tense press conference two days before his LIV bow: "My opinion changed. That was it.

"You guys will never believe me, but we didn't have the conversation 'til everything was done at the U.S. Open and figured it out. Here I am."

He added: "Look, what I've had to go through the last two years on my knees, the pain, the rehab, all this stuff, you realise, you know, I need a little bit more time off. I'll be the first one to say it, it's not been an easy last couple of years, and I think having a little more breaks, a little more time at home to make sure I'm 100 per cent before I go play in an event and don't feel like I'm forced to play right away - that was a big thing for me."

 

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU

Bryson DeChambeau is another major champion who has defected from the PGA Tour.

DeChambeau starts a new chapter of his career on the back of finishing tied for 56th in the U.S. Open, two years after winning it. 

The 28-year-old will also have captaincy duties, leading the CRUSHERS GC team.

DeChambeau has not registered a victory since his Arnold Palmer Invitational win last year and will be hoping a change of tour will enable him to experience that winning feeling again.

He said of his decision to join LIV Golf: "I understand people's decisions on their comments and whatnot. As it relates to me, I've personally made that as my own decision and I won't say anymore on that, there's no need. We're golfers at the end of the day.

"I think that I respect everyone's opinion. That's the most important thing people can hopefully understand out of me, that I do respect it. But golf is a force for good, and I think as time goes on, hopefully people will see the good that they're [LIV Golf] doing and what they're trying to accomplish, rather than look at the bad that's happened before. 

"I think moving on from that is important, and going, continuing to move forward in a positive light is something that can be a force for good for the future of the game."

PATRICK REED

The 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed will also get his first experience of the LIV Golf Invitational Series this week.

Another United States Ryder Cup player, Reed will be on a 4 ACES GC team captained by Johnson.

Reed's last victory came at the Farmers Insurance Open in 2021 and he was down in a share of 49th in the U.S Open.

The 31-year-old took aim at the PGA Tour this week, saying he is looking forward to having a reduced workload.

"Listen to the players for once," he said. "We actually have an off-season where not only can we get healthy, work on our bodies, but we're basically allowing ourselves throughout the year to, you know, try to peak at the right times is when you're playing rather than feeling like you have to play every single week.

"And on top of it, just the quality of life for us as players now, having less events, being able to spend more time at home with the family, if you have kids, being able to spend time with your children, and not sitting there and having to play three, four weeks in a row, then have a week off, and during that week off you're preparing trying to get ready for the next week."

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    The four-time major winner, who finished third as Cameron Smith – reported to be the next LIV Golf signing – won The Open last month, was asked if the struggle between players on either tour had become "personal".

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    "Not really," McIlroy replied, but he does feel his game has somehow benefited from his being at the centre of a storm when off the course.

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    Now it's time to enjoy the show.

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