The LIV Golf Tucson Profile
After a limited schedule of eight tournaments in its first year LIV Golf has nearly doubled that tally with 14 set for 2023.
The season opened last month with a visit to the Mayakoba Resort in Mexico, a week that witnessed a victory for the American journeyman Charles Howell III on a course he had always enjoyed when it hosted the PGA Tour.
This second event also returns to a venue that once welcomed the traditional golf tours – The Gallery Golf Club in Tucson.
The week will be full of the glamor and glitz now associated with LIV, and there will be an extra dimension of controversy after the authorities announced restrictions on ball design.
LIV’s Bryson DeChambeau has already voiced his frustration at the news and we can expect more dissent all week.
The Gallery Club hosted the 2007 and 2008 World Golf Championship Match Play events which were won by Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods.
It’s a par 71 layout set at around 7,400 yards but plays to less than that because the venue is around 900m above sea level.
The desert location cannot be overlooked – such courses are inevitably modern in design which suits some players and not others.
Both Stenson and Woods were very fine performers in such conditions
Cameron Smith was unable to defend his title at THE PLAYERS Championship last week as the differences between the old tours and LIV continue to divide the game.
Might that motivate the Aussie to produce a good week?
He ended 2022 with five wins and bounced back from two missed cuts with fifth place in Mexico last time out.
Chile’s Joaquin Niemann has been a model of consistency since leaving the PGA Tour at the end of the 2021/22 season.
In seven starts since then, five on LIV, he has never finished outside the top 20 and has recorded four top fives.
He’s yet to land a win, however.
England’s Paul Casey is also enjoying his golf right now – in fact, he’s not finished outside the top seven in his last four appearances.
He opened that run with third in Thailand and he was fourth in Mexico.
He also made the late eight in the Match Play event here in 2007 so has solid course experience.
DJ Can Spin a Tune
This week’s first pick is hinted at by the fact that his name is missing from the trio of favorites mentioned above.
Because Dustin Johnson should really be among them.
True, he is the same price as Casey, but that feels a little wrong – the Englishman is a fine player but he has won less than Johnson and his ceiling is nowhere near as high.
Johnson is also a comfortably better player than Niemann – last year he finished top eight in six of the seven LIV tournaments with a win in Boston, seconds in Bedminster and Chicago, and fourth in Portland.
Off the back of his brilliant 2022 Smith deserves favoritism but Johnson should not be far behind.
He isn’t for one reason: he finished 35th at El Camaleon.
But that was never going to be a golf course that suited his game.
It’s more important to remember that class golfers have won at The Gallery and Johnson is one of those.
Also, refer back to those four best efforts last year – they all came on home soil.
Back him each way in the outright market at +1200 with BetRivers which pays out five places.
Reed Can Pounce
Patrick Reed finished second to Rory McIlroy in the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year and it wasn’t the first time he has thrived among the sand.
In fact, he has four top 10 finishes on the Earth Course in Dubai including a second in 2018 and a third in 2020.
He’s recorded three top-five finishes since joining LIV and this week is a great opportunity for him to finally lift a trophy.
Take the +2200 available each way at BetRivers.
In the team competition, the all-South African quartet of Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Brand Grace and Dean Burmester, known as Stinger GC, might have been overlooked.
All four of them have log books packed with top 10 finishes in the deserts of the Middle East and the altitude won’t trouble them either because so much tour golf in South Africa is played on the Johannesburg high veldt.
This team won the first LIV event and was second in the seasonal competition.
The odds rate Stinger as the sixth-best team in the field and that looks a little awry.
Back them at +750 each way at bet365 which pays three places.