Until recently, David Puig caught the eye in the LIV Golf line-ups as the sole amateur competing. Now, ahead of this week’s LIV Golf Invitational Chicago, he will merely be the youngest player in the 48-man field at Rich Harvest Farms.
On Monday, the 20-year-old Spaniard announced his decision to forego his senior season at Arizona State and turn professional, effective immediately.
“Let’s see if I can be the youngest winner, too,” the Spaniard said Tuesday after his range session. “That’d be cool.”
Puig becomes the second amateur from Spain to turn pro and join LIV Golf in its inaugural season, following 22-year-old Eugenio Chacarra, who turned pro prior to the Portland tournament. Chacarra had one year remaining at Oklahoma State.
Unlike Chacarra, who had no prior experience at a LIV event before teeing it up at Pumpkin Ridge, Puig already has two LIV starts under his belt. Getting the taste of playing against world-class players influenced his big career move.
“I played a couple of LIV events as an amateur and I really liked it,” said Puig, who was unable to accept the $267,000 prize earnings from those appearances because of his amateur status. “I always said that I’m very grateful to LIV to give me those two opportunities to play against the best players in the world.
“It was obviously a pretty tough decision because I like the team format, I love college, and I really love ASU. All my teammates and coaches, they’ve been really awesome to me. But at the same time, I was excited for this opportunity. It’s awesome to be out here and playing against these guys.”
Puig, ninth in this week’s world amateur rankings, said he was happy to have one last opportunity to represent his country as an amateur. He was part of Spain’s team at the recent World Amateur Team Championship in Paris, tying for fourth individually while Spain finished fifth in the team standings.
Three months ago, Puig helped Arizona State get to the final of the NCAA men’s team golf championship. He delivered one of the Sun Devils’ two points in the title match loss to the University of Texas.
“It was really cool to finish my amateur career with Spain and almost win a national championship with ASU,” Puig said. “We were really close. I’m proud of what I did. As I said, it was a tough decision, but I’m really happy with how my amateur career ended.”
Prior to turning pro, Puig said he consulted with his family, his coaches, his teammates, and other support members. “The people I know that I can trust,” he said. “Their opinion matters to me. They were excited for me, and they all supported me. It was pretty helpful to make the decision.”
Once the decision was made, it then became a matter of building his team. Puig said he’s working with Dave Phillips at the Titleist Performance Institute, and also has a physical therapist. “They’re going to help me become a better golfer, for sure,” Puig said.
He still needed a caddie, though.
Earlier this year, Puig received a text message from Greg Bodine, who spent six years as a caddie for Tony Finau and was looking for his next bag.
Finau’s coach is Boyd Summerhays — and Summerhays’ son Preston not only was a teammate of Puig’s at ASU, they also share an apartment in Tempe. Puig asked about Bodine. “They said he’s great,” Puig said, “and I trust the Summerhays family a lot.” So Puig and Bodine stayed in contact the last few months.
On Tuesday at Rich Harvest Farms, Puig and Bodine met in person for the first time and started the bonding process on the range.
“We’re both learning from each other,” Puig said. “I know he’ll be a good asset here and I know I can learn from him and he can probably learn from me something, so I’m excited for that.”
Earlier in the day, Puig had run into Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, who at 23 is not that much older but is captain of Torque GC, the team Puig will play for this week. Niemann will make his second LIV start this week after making the three-man playoff two weeks ago in Boston, losing to Dustin Johnson’s eagle on the first playoff hole.
“We speak the same language,” Puig said of Niemann. “He’s been very supportive. I’m excited to be on his team. He’s a great player.”
It’s all a bit of a whirlwind, but Puig is ready to begin the next chapter of his career. And speaking of chapters — he’s not finished with schoolbooks just yet. He remains determined to complete his studies at Arizona State and earn his bachelor’s degree in communications.
“I’ve switched to become a full ASU online student,” he said. “I obviously would love to finish my degree. That’s what I’m planning on. But it’ll be online for now. I only have one more year, so I’m excited to finish.”
You may also like:
Golf Digest Middle East presents Oktoberfest 2022
Puig to go pro in Chicago
The Sergio saga takes a new twist
Dubai Desert Classic set for January return — without Slync
DP World Tour set for a band of brothers
How did LIV Golfers get on in rankings points race at DP World Tour BMW PGA?
Watch Nelly Korda nail Sawgrass 17th — left-handed
Annika Sorenstam to get her own LPGA event
How Smith’s departure may have influenced Scheffler’s PGA Tour Player of the Year win
LIV Golf Chicago field revealed
DP World Tour players set for Italian Open challenge
DJ in control in LIV Golf standings ahead of Chicago
Each player’s pay out from the BMW PGA Championship
McIlroy edged out by Lowry at BMW PGA
Patrick Reed makes case for his defence
Get your FREE September edition of Golf Digest Middle East here