2-time Major winner and reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm joins LIV Golf

2-time Major winner and reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm joins LIV Golf
Spanish golf star Jon Rahm with Commissioner and CEO Greg Norman after it was announced on Thursday that Rahm has joined LIV Golf. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 December 2023
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2-time Major winner and reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm joins LIV Golf

2-time Major winner and reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm joins LIV Golf
  • Rahm is one of the most dominant players of the past decade
  • Spaniard will help expand league, says LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman

LONDON/NEW YORK/FLORIDA: Two-time major winner Jon Rahm, the reigning Masters champion, has joined LIV Golf, it was announced by the organization on Thursday.

Rahm will compete in the LIV Golf League beginning next season, which begins at LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico from Feb. 2 to 4.

“I am proud to join LIV Golf and be part of something new that is bringing growth to the sport,” said Rahm. “I have no doubt that this is a great opportunity for me and my family and am very excited for the future.”

LIV Golf Commissioner and CEO Greg Norman said: “When I first met Jon at the age of 17, I knew then that the golfing world was about to witness the birth of a new star. Jon has consistently validated that he is one of the top players in the world.

“He’s a generational talent who has proven his merit as a multiple major champion and tremendous ambassador for global golf by placing the game ahead of himself.

“There are very few athletes with his pedigree of talent, leadership, poise, and commitment to bringing progress to the sport on a worldwide stage. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Jon to the LIV Golf family as the league continues preparations for a huge 2024 and beyond.”

Added Lawrence Burian, LIV Golf chief operating officer: “LIV Golf is here to stay. The addition of Jon reemphasizes that our league is not slowing down. We are continuing to invest and build aggressively for LIV’s long-term and exciting future.”

Rahm’s impact as one of the most dominant players of the past decade spans the globe. The 29-year-old has amassed 20 wins, including the 2023 Masters, 2021 US Open, and the DP World Tour Championship three times (2017, 2019, 2022). The Spaniard has played in three consecutive Ryder Cups, helping lead Team Europe to victory in 2018 and 2023. This year, Rahm won four times while also finishing tied for second in the 151st Open Championship and tied for fifth in the DP World Tour Championship.

Rahm has earned 93 top-10 finishes with accolades including 2021 PGA of America Player of the Year, two-time European Tour (DP World Tour) Golfer of the Year, and 2019 European Tour Race to Dubai Winner. Before turning pro, Rahm was the world’s No. 1 amateur for a record 60 weeks, and twice won the Ben Hogan Award at Arizona State University as the nation’s top collegiate golfer.

Details of Rahm’s team will be announced at a later date. He joins LIV Golf’s star-studded, international field returning in 2024 with many of the sport’s biggest names. This includes 2023 individual champion Talor Gooch (Smash GC), 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau (2023 Team Champions Crushers GC), 2022 Open Champion Cameron Smith (Ripper GC), 2023 PGA Championship winner and five-time major champion Brooks Koepka (Smash GC), six-time major winner and World Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson (HyFlyers GC), two-time major winners Dustin Johnson (4Aces GC), Bubba Watson (RangeGoats GC) and Martin Kaymer (Cleeks GC).

LIV Golf competition tees off in February and features 12 regular season tournaments, an Individual Championship and Team Championship in new and returning markets across the world. Fans are encouraged to sign up for free to LIV X to receive exclusive updates and access, including information on hospitality tickets and ground passes for LIV Golf events which include live music and fan activities for all ages.

Throughout the season, the LIV Golf League competition will air in the US on Saturdays and Sundays on The CW, The CW App and LIV Golf Plus, with Friday rounds carried on The CW App and LIV Golf Plus. In addition, LIV Golf tournaments are carried globally on LIV Golf Plus, the LIV Golf YouTube channel and on more than a dozen international broadcast partners, delivering league broadcasts in over 180 territories to more than 380 million homes worldwide. For more information on how to watch the LIV Golf League, visit LIVGolf.com/where-to-watch.

LIV Golf is owned and operated by LIV Golf Investments whose focus is on sustainable investments to enhance the sport’s ecosystem.


Saudis victorious at GCC Golf Championship in Doha

Saudis victorious at GCC Golf Championship in Doha
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudis victorious at GCC Golf Championship in Doha

Saudis victorious at GCC Golf Championship in Doha
  • Khalid Attiya took top prize in individual competition while the team event saw Kingdom’s golfers awarded gold
  • Prince Khalid bin Saud: Our team’s prowess and dedication were evident throughout the championship, culminating in a well-deserved victory

DOHA: Saudi golfers have emerged triumphant at the Gulf Cooperation Council Golf Championship, claiming gold in both the team and individual categories.

The 26th edition of the tournament for adults — held alongside the 15th edition for youth — was hosted at the Doha Club in the Qatari capital and saw five teams from the GCC take part.

The individual gold medal went to Khalid Attiya, who clinched victory after a showdown with Qatari contender Saleh Al-Kaabi on the tournament’s final day.

The Saudi’s four rounds yielded 297 strokes, for an impressive nine-under winning total.

Meanwhile, the Saudi team maintained a commanding lead throughout the championship to secure the top position in the adults category.

Noah Alireza, CEO of Golf Saudi, praised the Saudi team’s achievement, highlighting their consistent excellence throughout the championship.

“At Golf Saudi, our unwavering dedication is to foster players’ success,” Alireza said, highlighting the significance of the the championship as a platform for players to hone their skills against the best of the GCC.

Prince Khalid bin Saud, a prominent player, commended the Saudi team’s performance, attributing their success to the invaluable support of the Saudi Golf Federation.

“Our team’s prowess and dedication were evident throughout the championship, culminating in a well-deserved victory,” he said.

Following his victory, Attiya expressed his gratitude for the unwavering support of the Saudi Golf Federation, which enabled him and the team to emerge victorious.

“The Saudi team’s strong presence and performance were instrumental in securing our place atop the podium,” he said.


Joaquin Niemann crowned LIV Golf Jeddah champion

Joaquin Niemann crowned LIV Golf Jeddah champion
Updated 03 March 2024
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Joaquin Niemann crowned LIV Golf Jeddah champion

Joaquin Niemann crowned LIV Golf Jeddah champion
  • Crushers GC team to beat after stunning performances at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club

JEDDAH: Joaquin Niemann once again proved he is the hottest golfer on the planet right now and Crushers GC showed they are the most dominant team in the LIV Golf League with stunning performances at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.

The Chilean golfer, captain of Torque GC, won the individual title by four shots with birdies on his last two holes. A four-under par 66 took him to 17-under par, four clear of Stingers captain Louis Oosthuizen (67) and his compatriot Charl Schwartzel (68).

Niemann’s win, his second of the season in three starts after LIV Golf Mayakoba, was remarkable, but it was the performance of the Bryson DeChambeau-led Crushers (-38) that became the talk of the golf course. They staged a magnificent charge on the final day, coming back from 11 shots behind and beating overnight leaders Stingers (-34) by four shots.

On a difficult, windy day, captain DeChambeau led from the front with the day’s lowest round of eight-under 62, which helped him finish fourth in the individual standings, while Charles Howell III contributed a 64 and Anirban Lahiri 65 (both tied sixth). They beat the previous record of the biggest comeback by a team in LIV history by four shots (4Aces in Adelaide last year).

Niemann now has three wins (Australian Open in December and two LIV wins), a third, a fourth, and a fifth position in his last six starts worldwide.

He started the final round two ahead and immediately increased that margin with a birdie on his opening hole. Thereafter, he continued to hit one good shot after another, with the only bogey of the day on the 13th hole, which also happened to be only his second bogey of the tournament. He closed with birdies on the 17th and 18th, which came after a huge drive of 410 yards.

The 25-year-old from Santiago, who has received a special invitational to play this year’s Masters and also qualified for the Open Championship following his win in Australia, said: “It feels amazing. It’s a super special moment. It’s always nice when you win, but I’m more proud of how I’m playing right now and the way I played out there today. It was a tough day. It was windy.

“I think this is the most confident I have ever felt on a golf course, the best I’ve ever played. I just want it to keep going in the same direction. There is a lot more to improve, and I think I just need to be curious about that and see how much I can learn.”

Niemann won $4 million and 40 points, which takes him to the top of the individual standings after three tournaments at 80 points.

Crushers were off to a solid start, but the real momentum boost was provided by DeChambeau, when he eagled the par-5 18th hole with a 20-feet putt, and then almost willed in a 15-feet birdie putt on his next hole to take his team level with Stingers. Howell and Lahiri kept adding birdies and it turned out to be a romp for the team.

On whether he thought a win was possible at the start of the day, DeChambeau said: “No, but I knew that our team is good enough to do it any day, especially with four scores counting. I can count on these guys to play really well.

“The top priority for us was to play our best, and it obviously showed today. Especially in these conditions, when it’s really windy, we do pretty well. We just hold our heads high.”

Lahiri said: “Bryson’s low round was the key. That was unbelievable golf. I was playing so well given the conditions that I thought I might be one of the lowest scores of the day, and if that gets beaten by two of my own teammates, it just shows how well we played as a team.”

Crushers are the reigning Team Championship winners and have moved to the top of the team standings. With a second place in Mayakoba, they now have 68 points, 18 ahead of second-placed Smash GC.


Red-hot Niemann takes second round lead at LIV Golf Jeddah

Red-hot Niemann takes second round lead at LIV Golf Jeddah
Updated 02 March 2024
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Red-hot Niemann takes second round lead at LIV Golf Jeddah

Red-hot Niemann takes second round lead at LIV Golf Jeddah
  • Chilean is 13 under par for the tournament, two shots ahead of South Africa’s former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel

JEDDAH: Joaquin Niemann says he has been a ‘slightly better’ golfer over the past few months. That seemingly small uptick in form is knocking the competition out of the park.

The red-hot Chilean, Captain of Torque GC, surged to a two-shot lead after the second round of the individual championship of LIV Golf Jeddah at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on Saturday, adding a bogey-free 64 to his opening 63 to finish with a 13-under-par score of 127. He was being chased by South Africa’s former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (66) at 11 under.

2010 Open Champion and Stingers Captain Louis Oosthuizen (66), another player in terrific form, was tied third at 10 under par alongside American Jason Kokrak, whose 62 was the lowest round of the day.

World No.3 Jon Rahm (69), the overnight leader and the highest-ranked player in the field, was among those tied for fourth place at 9 under.

American Anthony Kim, the most talked-about player in the field, making his comeback in professional golf after 12 years away, matched his first-round score of 76, finishing with 11 straight pars after going 6 over through the first seven holes.

Niemann began the round with seven straights pars before finishing with six birdies over the last 11 holes. It was another brilliant show from the 25-year-old from Santiago, who won the Australian Open in December and LIV Golf Mayakoba in February, finished fourth in the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and came third last week in the International Series Oman.

Asked what has changed in his game to trigger such a run of form, Niemann replied: “Me.”

He continued: “I think it was a little bit of everything. When I look back to last season, I wasn’t playing my best golf. Off the tee, iron shots, putting, my routines on the golf course, how I thought and how I prepared for tournaments…I think I am bit better in all of those.

“Obviously, I made a few changes in my swing and it’s been feeling a little bit better now. I’ve been able to hit all the trajectories I want to and that has given me the confidence to be aggressive off the tee. I am hitting that high draw (slight right-to-left flight) more often and it has helped me gain at least 20 yards on my usual low-cut shot that I had before.

Schwartzel, the 2012 Masters champion, had a nightmarish final round at the previous LIV event in Las Vegas, when he shot 10 over par in cold conditions and slipped to last in the field.

“I have the memory of a goldfish. I have no recollection of what happened in Vegas,” Schwartzel said when asked about the turnaround in his form. “Myself, Branden (Grace) and Dean (Burmester) all live (near each other) in the Palm Beach area, so we play a lot of golf together, and all of us have been playing pretty good golf. We didn’t do very good in Vegas. The weather was too cold for us. It’s a lot different here and we’re in much better spirits.”

Thanks to Schwartzel, Oosthuizen and Grace (65), the all-South African Stingers grabbed a seven-shot lead in the Team Championship with a 29-under-par total. The Rahm-led Legions XIII and Brooks Koepka’s Smash GC were tied for second at 22 under.


Rahm and Meronk share lead after first round of LIV Golf Jeddah

Rahm and Meronk share lead after first round of LIV Golf Jeddah
Updated 01 March 2024
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Rahm and Meronk share lead after first round of LIV Golf Jeddah

Rahm and Meronk share lead after first round of LIV Golf Jeddah
  • Despite the windy conditions, six players shot rounds better than 65 at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club
  • “Really good day. Drove it great. Anytime you shoot a bogey-free 62, there’s not much that goes wrong,” said the Spaniard

JEDDAH: The high quality of the field at LIV Golf tournaments was apparent once again when, despite the wind picking up at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, six players shot better than 65 in the opening round of LIV Golf Jeddah.
The highest-ranked player in the field, world No. 3 Jon Rahm, shot a sparkling bogey-free eight-under par 62 to share the lead with Poland’s Adrian Meronk, who made seven birdies and an eagle.
Crushers GC Captain Bryson DeChambeau closed spectacularly with six birdies in his last seven holes in a round of seven-under par 63, which could have been even lower but for a double bogey and two three-putts. The American was joined in tied third place by South African Charl Schwartzel and the red-hot Joaquin Niemann of Chile.
Stingers GC Captain Louis Oosthuizen was the other player with a sub-65 round, making six birdies in his six-under 64.
Anthony Kim, the man in the spotlight as he made his return to professional golf after a hiatus of 12 years, opened with a 76 and was last in the 54-man field.
Reigning Masters champion Rahm started the day on the third hole and finished with three straight birdies on the 18th, first and second holes in what is his first visit to the Kingdom.
“Really good day. Drove it great. Anytime you shoot a bogey-free 62, there’s not much that goes wrong. I put it in the right spots and gave myself the opportunities,” said the Spaniard.
“The key to that low score was three lengthy putts I made. And I made pretty much every putt I looked at inside 10 feet.
“I feel like my record when I’m playing tournaments at a venue for the first time, has been pretty good for some reason. Sometimes, not knowing is a blessing.”
The Dubai-based Meronk, who is playing his first season on LIV Golf, made a bogey on his second hole of the day, but more than made up for it when he chipped in for an eagle on the par-4 10th hole from 35 yards.
“I’m feeling way better this week than my first two weeks (Mayakoba and Las Vegas). I had some quality practice time last week in Dubai. I’m happy where my game is, and it’s definitely a big difference from even Vegas a couple of weeks ago,” said Meronk, ranked 50th in the world.
Kim made one birdie in his round and showed his rustiness by topping his second shot of the day on the 18th hole, followed by a shank with his second shot on the seventh. However, his driving was very good all day, and his putting was on point the whole day.
“Obviously disappointed with the score, but I played much better than what I scored,” said the 38-year-old American. “I’ve got a lot to build on. Just made a lot of unforced errors, and that was unfortunate, but I feel like I’m not that far away.”
In the Team Championship, Rahm-led Legions XIII took the opening-day honors as Tyrrell Hatton (-5) and young Caleb Surratt (-4) pushed the team aggregate to 17-under, one shot better than the all-South African Stingers GC (-16).


Boutier delivers putting masterclass to grab Singapore LPGA lead

Boutier delivers putting masterclass to grab Singapore LPGA lead
Updated 01 March 2024
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Boutier delivers putting masterclass to grab Singapore LPGA lead

Boutier delivers putting masterclass to grab Singapore LPGA lead
  • Starting the day tied 30th, Boutier needed just 22 putts to navigate her way around the par-72 Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club and she heads into the weekend with a one-shot lead over Japan’s Ayaka Furue, who shot a 67
  • World No. 1 Lilia Vu struggled to a 74 to finish her round in a share of 21st place

SINGAPORE: France’s Celine Boutier delivered a putting masterclass to storm up the leaderboard with an 8-under par 64 and snatch the second round lead at the HSBC Women’s World Championship on Friday in Singapore.

Starting the day tied 30th, Boutier needed just 22 putts to navigate her way around the par-72 Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club and she heads into the weekend with a one-shot lead over Japan’s Ayaka Furue, who shot a 67.

Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom posted a 68 to take third place while overnight leader Sarah Schmelzel of the United States slipped to tied-fourth after carding a 72.

Boutier, a six-time LPGA winner, struggled on the opening day with a 73 but bounced back with eight birdies against no bogeys for a two-day total of 7-under par 137.

“I didn’t really make that many putts yesterday and came up pretty short,” said Boutier.

“But today I felt like I made everything. I putted to the right place and was not trying to be too indecisive.

“It was definitely less windy and I was able to get a good start with two birdies on the back, which is my front nine. That gave me a lot of confidence and I just kept going,” the 30-year-old added.

Boutier’s stellar round gave her watching father a birthday gift to remember.

“He was following me around today and I wanted to make it a point to play well. I wished him a happy birthday before my round and he was like, ‘You’ve got to get me a gift.’

“I hope he enjoys this one.”

Furue, who pipped Boutier to the Scottish Open title in 2022, will have the Frenchwoman for company again as they tee off together in the third round.

When asked if she was confident of outplaying Boutier again, she said: “She is a really good player. I just want to catch up with her and play good tomorrow. There’s no pressure at all.”

World No. 1 Lilia Vu struggled to a 74 to finish her round in a share of 21st place.

Defending champion Ko Jin-young is a further shot back in tied-27th after signing for a 73.