by George McNeilly
WINTER GARDEN, Florida – Three tournaments into its second season, the LIV Golf League has its first multiple winner after Brooks Koepka drained a 4-foot putt on the final hole in Orlando Sunday April 2..
The 4-time major winner closed with a final round 3-under-par-68 for a one-shot victory over Sebastian Munoz for a $4 million payday and is one of 18 LIV players off to Augusta National for this week’s first major of the year.
“All 18 of us want to win. I think when you look at it, if one of the (LIV) guys does, I would be shocked if all of us aren’t there,” said Koepka.
The two-time U.S. Open winner who also won a pair of PGA Championships, before a series of injuries over the last few years, now has his sights set on Augusta National.
“Yeah, it’ll be great just to see all the good players back, back in one field again, right? It’s the first time we’ve seen it in a long time. That’ll be exciting. I’m looking forward to it, just to see everybody and compete against them, because at the end of the day, I’ll be honest, I do miss playing against Rory, I do miss playing against Scottie, and I’m sure they miss playing against us, as well. That’s a fact; you always want to play against the best. That’s going to make Augusta even more special.”
While Koepka finished 15-under-par for the week in individual stroke play, LIV Golf also features a unique team competition won by Torque GC and its Captain Joaquin Niemann, who overhaul of the roster during the offseason paid dividends.
Niemann added Muñoz and Mito Pereira while welcoming free agent David Puig. Muñoz shot a final-round 66 to lead the Torque team scores, with Puig shooting 67 and Pereira shooting 68.
“It’s pretty awesome, the chemistry between the four of us is pretty good since day one. All the practice rounds, the games we do, it’s pretty easy for the four of us to hang out together. I think we knew we could win since the first week. It just came a little bit later than we thought, actually,” said Niemann.
Koepka and six former Masters champions are among the 18 LIV professionals who will play in golf’s first major of 2023. They include three-time champ Phil Mickelson, two-time winner Bubba Watson, along with Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel. The other 11 participants include Abraham Ancer, Bryson DeChambeau, Talor Gooch, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Thomas Pieters, Cameron Smith, Harold Varner III, Niemann and Pereira.
Here are the standings and scores for Sunday’s final round of the team competition at Orange County National’s Crooked Cat Course – a layout open to the public and well known to Centra Florida amateurs. LIV Golf’s next event is in Adelaide, Australia, at The Grange Golf Club, April 21-23.
The three best scores from each team count in every round for their total team score. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.
1. TORQUE GC (-36): Sebastián Muñoz 66, David Puig 67, Mito Pereira 68 (Rd. 3 score: -12)
2. SMASH GC (-35): Matthew Wolff 67, Brooks Koepka 68, Jason Kokrak 69 (Rd. 3 score: -9)
3. 4ACES GC (-34): Peter Uihlein 65, Dustin Johnson 66, Patrick Reed 67 (Rd. 3 score: -15)
4. STINGER GC (-26): Dean Burmester 64, Branden Grace 70, Charl Schwartzel 70 (Rd. 3 score: -9)
5. CLEEKS GC (-25): Bernd Wiesberger 68, Richard Bland 70, Graeme McDowell 71 (Rd. 3 score: -4)
6. MAJESTICKS GC (-25): Henrik Stenson 66, Sam Horsfield 68, Lee Westwood 69 (Rd. 3 score: -4)
7. FIREBALLS GC (-23): Carlos Ortiz 65, Eugenio Chacarra 66, Sergio Garcia 68 (Rd. 3 score: -14)
8. RANGEGOATS GC (-21): Thomas Pieters 67, Talor Gooch 68, Harold Varner III 68 (Rd. 3 score: -10)
9. HYFLYERS GC (-21): Phil Mickelson 67, Brendan Steele 67, Cameron Tringale 69 (Rd. 3 score: -10)
10. CRUSHERS GC (-19): Bryson DeChambeau 67, Charles Howell III 67, Paul Casey 71 (Rd. 3 score: -8)
11. IRON HEADS GC (-16): Kevin Na 69, Scott Vincent 70, Danny Lee 74 (Rd. 3 score: E)
12. RIPPER GC (-15): Jediah Morgan 67, Marc Leishman 68, Cameron Smith 71 (Rd. 3 score: -7)