So, now what?
Of the 12 established teams in the league, six spots remain available and four teams have openings. Bubba Watson’s RangeGoats GC finished runner-up at the 2023 LIV Golf Team Championship, and then the two-time Masters champion blew up his squad with two of the three trades that have been made so far this offseason.
With less than two months until the first event of the 2024 season at LIV Golf Mayakoba (Feb. 2-4), here’s a look at what’s still to come during LIV’s offseason period.
LIV Golf Draft
Now that the promotions event has passed – Kalle Samooja, Kieran Vincent and Jinichiro Kozuma earned spots for the 2024 season – the league will host the LIV Golf Draft, where Andy Ogletree, the winner of the Asian Tour’s International Series, and the three promoted players will be available for selection. Additional details on timing and format have yet to be released.
During a Zoom call with reporters ahead of the announcement, I asked Jon Rahm if he would be taking over an already-established LIV team or if he would be starting a new squad.
“We’re just gonna have to wait and see,” said Rahm with a coy smile.
LIV loves its threesomes shotgun start format, meaning the league can only add three more teams at most. After Rahm signed, reports broke that Tony Finau and Tyrrell Hatton were in talks to join the Spaniard’s side.
Finau was asked about the reports at the Grant Thornton Invitational and said, “I have nothing to say right now. I haven’t heard anything.”
When asked if he had any response to his name floating around he said, “No, not yet. I haven’t let anything marinate other than just playing right now.”
Let’s start with the full teams. Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Pat Perez all return for the 2022 team champions, who added Harold Varner III in the offseason via a trade with RangeGoats GC for Peter Uihlein.
Captain Bryson DeChambeau will return his full slate of players after the Crushers claimed the 2023 team championship. Anirban Lahiri was the squad’s only player with an expiring contract but accepted an extension earlier this offseason. Both Charles Howell III and Paul Casey remain under contract.
Sergio Garcia’s squad had an open spot after Carlos Ortiz declined a contract extension, but the Mexican was traded to Torque GC, where he’ll join a team full of Latin American talent. In return, the Fireballs picked up David Puig who joins Eugenio Chacarra and Abraham Ancer.
Another full team returns, but should they? The trio of captains Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood are all back, same with Sam Horsfield. The Majesticks finished 11th out of 12 last season, just ahead of the last-place Iron Heads. Talk about a team in need of refreshment.
What is Bubba Watson doing to his team? The RangeGoats finished runner-up at the team championship then blew up its roster in a matter of minutes. The top two players, Talor Gooch and Harold Varner III, were traded for Matthew Wolff and Peter Uihlein, who are both downgrades from Gooch and Varner. Thomas Pieters is still under contract and completes the foursome, and will need to step up in 2024.
Brooks Koepka smashed the upgrade button in trading Wolff for Gooch, the 2023 individual champion, but for some reason signed a struggling Graeme McDowell, who was flirting with relegation all year, to replace his brother, Chase, who actually was relegated. Jason Kokrak returns to complete the lineup.
Captain Louis Oosthuizen returns all four players as Branden Grace, Dean Burmester and Charl Schwartzel all remain under contract for 2024.
As noted above, the trading of David Puig for Carlos Ortiz completed Torque’s foursome as captain Joaquin Niemann’s side returns Mito Pereira and Sebastian Munoz for next season.
Now for the teams with openings. Martin Kaymer finished in a relegation spot but remained exempt as a captain for 2024. Richard Bland re-signed with the team, meaning the Cleeks need two new players (as well as a new name).
Phil Mickelson talked about the open position on his team at the final event of the season after James Piot finished in the relegation zone but has yet to fill the spot. Lefty will have a look at the Asian Tour’s International Series winner, Andy Ogletree, as well as the three players who advance from this week’s LIV Golf Promotions event. Both Cameron Tringale and Brendan Steele will return.
Iron Heads GC
Sihwan Kim finished in a relegation spot leaving captain Kevin Na with a free spot on his team that has yet to be filled. Scott Vincent accepted an extension, and Danny Lee remains under contract for next season.
Cameron Smith’s all-Aussie side still has two openings to fill after Jediah Morgan was relegated and Matt Jones went to free agency. Smith and Marc Leishman are the only two confirmed players for 2024, and rumors swirled about Jason Day joining before the report was shot down.
There is nothing to the “Jason Day to LIV” speculation. He’ll be on the PGA Tour in 2024
— Evin Priest (@EvinPriest) December 6, 2023