LIV Golf

From DJ and Sergio to Bland and Koepka, your players to watch at the LIV Golf Invitational Series in London

By Matt Smith
News broke on Wednesday morning of the field finally being announced for the inaugural, money-spinning LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament in London from June 9-11 at Centurion Club. Greg Norman’s brainchild is now set for lift-off, and is still turning heads. Among the 42 players revealed (six slots are still open and will be announced after the Asian Tour International — England this weekend) were three former world No. 1s, players  representing 11 different countries, and hold a combined eight major titles — quite a coup for a start-up event that has emerged despite threats of bans from the PGA Tour and DP Wolrd Tour for players who will compete in the tournament. More than 170 applications were received for the competition in London, which is played over 54 holes with a shotgun start and no cut — oh, and $25 million on the line in prize money, with a record $4 million going to the winner.

The 48-man field will play across 12 teams of four players each, which will be determined at The Draft on Tuesday, June 7.

MORE: Dustin Johnson to headline LIV Golf field in London

“Free agency has finally come to golf. This is an opportunity to start a movement that will change the course of history by bringing new and open competition to the sport we all love. The desire shown by the players to participate in LIV Golf demonstrates their emphatic belief in our model and confidence in what we’re building for the future,” said Norman, CEO and Commissioner of LIV Golf. “We couldn’t be happier at the diversity of our field, featuring players from around the world including major champions and those making their debut with us competing in their first professional event. We can’t wait to start our journey at Centurion Club with this group of first movers who are committed to growing the game in new and exciting ways.”

Here are the top five marquee players in the field

Dustin Johnson
The former world No. 1 was something of a surprise inclusion and will certainly draw in the crowds. The 37-year-old has two majors to his name (2016 US Open and 2020 Masters) and has racked up nearly 30 pro titles on tour. One of the most popular golfers on the planet.

Lee Westwood
The 49-year-old is one of the oldest guys still performing at the top on the main tours and is often mentioned as one of the best players never to win a major (he has three second-place finishes and three thirds across the four tournaments). He has been quite open and honest about looking for a bumper payday on the LIV Tour as he reaches the twilight of his career.

Sergio Garcia
The Spanish 2017 Masters champion dropped a not-so-subtle hint about his intentions to play on the LIV Golf tour when he was overheard saying he “cannot wait” to quit the PGA Tour after an errant penalty at the Wells Fargo Championship last month. A huge favourite in England, across Europe and the UAE.

Ian Poulter
Here is a man to watch for his fashion sense as much as his golf as he always dresses to impress during the big tournaments. While he has never won a major, the former world No. 5 has 17 wins on tour and is famed for his exploits for Team Europe in the Ryder Cup, meaning he always has a loyal band of followers.

Louis Oosthuizen
The South African shot on to the scene in 2010 when he won the Open Championship at St Andrews and has finished an agonising second in the other three majors a collective five times since, most recently at both the 2021 PGA Championship and US Open. Would love a money-spinning win before the Open heads back to the Old Course in Scotland as he searches for that elusive second major.

Here are Golf Digest Middle East’s five other players to watch:

Charl Schwartzel
The South African has been a fan favourite ever since he won the 2011 Masters at Augusta to claim the green jacket and his place in history. The 37-year-old has 13 pro titles on the PGA and DP World Tours and — win or lose — is always smiling on course.

Richard Bland
The veteran has been very outspoken about his intention to play the LIV Golf events, even if it means a ban from the DP World and PGA Tours. The 2021 British Masters champ has bloomed over the past couple of years and is playing the best golf of his life — possibly just at the right time.

Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat
One of the finest young exports to come out of Asia in recent years, TK is already a winner on the Asian Tour this season at the age of 15, where he became the youngest ever player to take a title on one of the main professional tours.

Adrian Otaegui
The 29-year-old Spaniard will hold a certain interest in the UAE as he is a Dubai resident. He has three DP World Tour wins to his name and recently hit the headlines by shooting a course record 63 at Al Hamra Club during the Ras Al Khaimah Championship in March, and just missed out on the ISPS Handa Championship in Spain in April.

Chase Koepka
If just for the name alone. The younger brother of a certain Brooks Koepka, Chase certainly knows his way around a golf course, too, with three amateur titles to his name, and runners-up spot at the Italian Challenge and Kazakhstan Open. He also finished fifth with brother Brooks at the 2017 Zurich Classic of New Orleans

The full field for the LIV Golf Invitational Series in London

(Name, Country, OWGR: Career Highlights)
Oliver Bekker, RSA, 93: Seven career wins
Richard Bland, ENG ,66: Two career wins
Laurie Canter, ENG, 114: One professional win
Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat (Am), THA, N/A: Youngest to win an OWGR event
Hennis Du Plessis, RSA, 128: Three professional wins
Oliver Fisher, ENG, 979: One professional win, 16 top-10 finishes
Sergio Garcia, ESP, 54: Major champion, 36 career victories
Talor Gooch, USA, 35: Two professional wins
Branden Grace, RSA, 118: 14 professional wins
Justin Harding, RSA, 111: 11 professional wins
Sam Horsfield, ENG, 72: Three professional wins
Dustin Johnson, USA, 13: Former World No. 1, Two-time major champion
Matt Jones, AUS, 68: Four professional wins
Sadom Kaewkanjana, THA, 125: Former Asian Tour Order of Merit leader (2 wins)
Martin Kaymer, GER, 210: Former World No. 1; Two-time major champion
Phachara Khongwatmai, THA, 133: Youngest player to win pro event (2013)
Sihwan Kim, USA, 138: Two Asian Tour wins
Ryosuke Kinoshita, JPN, 87: Three professional wins
Chase Koepka, USA, 1,543: Six professional top-10 finishes
Jinichiro Kozuma, JPN, 103: Two professional wins
Pablo Larrazabal, ESP, 65: Eight professional wins
Graeme McDowell, NIR, 376: Major champion, 16 professional victories
Jediah Morgan, AUS, 235: 2021-22 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit
Kevin Na, USA, 33: Nine professional victories
Shaun Norris, RSA, 69: 12 professional wins
Andy Ogletree, USA, 1,349: 2019 US Amateur Champion
Louis Oosthuizen, RSA, 20: Major champion; 20 professional wins
Wade Ormsby, AUS, 276: Four professional victories
Adrian Otaegui, ESP, 162: Three professional wins
Turk Pettit, USA, 720: 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Champion
James Piot (Am), USA: 2021 US Amateur Champion
Ian Poulter, ENG, 89: 19 professional victories; former World No. 5
David Puig (Am), ESP, N/A: Seven top-10 finishes in 2021 (NCAA)
JC Ritchie, RSA, 154: 10 professional victories
Charl Schwartzel, RSA, 120: Major champion, 23 professional wins
Hudson Swafford, USA, 91: Four professional wins; 12 top 10 finishes
Hideto Tanihara, JPN, 173: 16 professional victories
Peter Uihlein, USA, 319,: Former No. 1 Amateur; Four professional wins
Vincent Scott, ZIM, 109: Four professional wins
Lee Westwood, ENG, 74: Former World No. 1, 44 professional wins
Bernd Wiesberger, AUT, 90: 13 professional victories
Blake Windred, AUS, 250: Earned first professional win in 2021

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