Four more team rosters were revealed on Thursday for the upcoming 2023 LIV Golf League season.
Cameron Smith’s rebranded Rippers refreshen their all-Australia line-up, Cleeks bring in another veteran player in Bernd Wiesberger, and it is as you were for Crushers and Fireballs with their talented rosters.
The first four team line-ups were revealed on Wednesday, and the announcement of the final four rosters is forthcoming.
Here’s a closer look at the four-men teams announced on Thursday.
The big news Down Under is that Cameron Smith’s team have been rebranded with a name and logo more befitting their all-Australian heritage. Ripper is the new name, replacing the previous Punch. But there’s also a new member in the line-up, with 23-year-old Queenslander Jediah Morgan re-joining the roster.
Morgan played for three different teams in 2022, including a two-tournament stint with Punch. He transitioned to Torque when Smith and Marc Leishman became LIV Golf members prior to the tournament in Boston. But now Morgan has returned to join Smith, Leishman and Matt Jones in a line-up that will receive plenty of support when LIV Golf makes its first visit to Australia on April 20-22 in Adelaide.
Smith, the reigning Open Champion, won LIV Golf Chicago in just his second start after becoming a member. His team then won their quarter-final and semi-final matches at the Miami Team Championship before finishing second by one stroke to 4Aces on the final day.
Morgan ranked 12th in driving distance in 2022 with an average of 305.8 yards. He and Jones (who ranked 13th at 305.4 yards) should provide the Rippers with plenty of, well, punch off the tee in 2023.
With the acquisition of Bernd Wiesberger, Cleeks now have three players with Ryder Cup experience on their roster. The 37-year-old Austrian played in the 2021 Ryder Cup, marking the sixth time he has played in an international team event as a pro. Cleeks Captain Martin Kaymer and teammate Graeme McDowell have each made four Ryder Cup appearances. The only other team with three Ryder Cuppers is Majesticks.
Wiesberger began last season as a member of Niblicks, then transferred to HyFlyers for LIV Golf Portland and stayed on Phil Mickelson’s team the rest of the season. His best individual result came in the final regular-season event at LIV Golf Jeddah when he tied for eighth.
With 50-year-old Richard Bland playing some of the best golf in his career — he was the team leader in points last season — the all-European Cleeks will look to improve on a season in which they made one podium and finished 10th in the regular season. Despite not having an injured Kaymer for the Team Championship, the Cleeks won their quarter-finals match and hope those good vibes extend to the new season.
Crushers Captain Bryson DeChambeau saw no need to tinker with a line-up that was among the most consistent in the second half of the season.
Once the roster was stabilised with the additions of Paul Casey, Anirban Lahiri and Charles Howell III, the Crushers claimed three podium finishes in the final four regular-season tournaments. However, they remain in search of their first win of any kind.
DeChambeau battled some health problems last season, but he’s back to full strength now to lend firepower to his talented trio of ball-strikers.
“If I start playing better,” DeChambeau said, “we’re going to win a lot.”
Winners of LIV Golf Bangkok last season, the Spanish-speaking Fireballs have a deadly line-up that remains intact but still has plenty of room to improve.
Captain Sergio Garcia has returned from off-season knee surgery and comes off a tie for fifth in his last start at the International Series Oman. Abraham Ancer already has posted a win, claiming the prestigious PIF Saudi International in his second start of 2023.
Carlos Ortiz finished second in his LIV Golf debut event in Portland last year, while 22-year-old Eugenio Chacarra led the Fireballs to the team victory in Bangkok by winning the individual crown in just his fifth start after turning pro.
The Fireballs have an effective blend of legendary experience in Garcia, youthful exuberance in Chacarra, and team chemistry built on two players from Mexico and two from Spain. Plus, they start the season with a home game at LIV Golf Mayakoba, and will be home favorites again at LIV Golf Valderrama, a course in which Garcia has extensive success.
“The Fireballs team, we’re really, really excited to go to Mayakoba and Valderrama,” Ancer said.