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PREVIEW: 2022 LIV GOLF – Portland Invitational

Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition LIV Golf’s Portland Invitational taking place at Witch Hollow, Oregon.

LIV Golf - Portland Invitational Preview

Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition LIV Golf’s Portland Invitational taking place at Witch Hollow, Oregon.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2022 LIV Golf
Portland Invitational
Witch Hollow, Pumpkin Ridge, North Plains, Portland, Oregon
June 30th- July 2nd

LIV Golf here to stay

Let me start by saying I’m not a supporter of the LIV Golf Initiative. But it would be rather stupid of me to just turn a blind eye to what could be a dominant tour in coming years.

Plus, there does seem to be genuine interest amongst the betting public for this series. 48 players with no cuts does allow more leeway for your money. I think that the LIV series- love it or loathe it- is going to be a real part of the future golfing landscape.

It will be boosted this week by the fact that it could overshadow the US PGA Tour event (there is a pretty poor field lined up at this year’s TPC Deere Run). This could be a pivotal week in the legitimization of Greg Norman’s rebel tour.

Liv Golf made its debut earlier this month, with former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel taking home the individual prize. He also happened to take down the team prize alongside Hennie Du Plessis, Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen. 

Sure, it wasn’t a blockbuster opening to proceedings. But it didn’t have to be. All they needed to do was showcase this new format and avoid obvious banana peels. And they did. Seeing that this is my first LIV Golf preview, I think it would be remiss of me not to explain the idiosyncratic format.

Individual and Team formats explained

There are two simultaneous events being played: individual and team. Each of these events will take place over 54 holes (apparently making it that much more accessible to a wider public).

The individual event is just 54 holes of stroke-play without a cut. Simple. The team event is where it starts to get a little… weird. 12 captains will be chosen from the 48 invited players. Those captains will then select their fellow teammates following snake draft format.

During the first two rounds, only the team’s two best players will be counted. That will be increased to three in the 3rd and final round. You can conceivably shoot three rounds of 87 and win the team comp. As I said, weird.

Witch Hollow

Witch Hollow hosted the 1996 US Amateur (won by the incomparable Tiger Woods). It is actually quite a tough layout and should reward precision. The tight fairways and juicy rough will put a premium on controlling your ball flight.

Players will also have to be cognizant of the numerous doglegs on the course (no wonder Tiger played so well here). This Poa Annua test is not overly long and it should be a shot-shaper’s paradise.

DJ tops betting boards this week

Charl Schwartzel will be looking to make it back-to-back LIV Golf titles this week. And he may fancy his chances looking at this intricate layout. DJ unsurprisingly leads the markets. He has been a bit erratic of late but a solid top 10 at Centurion does leave him in good shape.

Patrick Reed is a player who jumps out at me. Brooks Koepka incurred the wrath of world golf when he was announced as a new edition to this tour. It will be interesting to see just how seriously the American takes this competition.

Elsewhere, the likes of Abraham Ancer and Kevin Na could shape up well for this test. But it’s hard to really gauge how seriously these players take the competitive aspect of all this (especially with the upcoming Open Championship to consider).

That’s the big issue with the ridiculously large signing-on fees for the marquee players. It almost makes the prize money incidental.

To Win Outright:

Dustin Johnson 7/1 | Louis Oosthuizen 10/1 | Brooks Koepka 12/1 | Abraham Ancer 12/1 | Talor Gooch 14/1

Value Bets

Kevin Na- To Win 20/1 | To Place 44/10

This isn’t really based on anything other than optics. Na hasn’t had the greatest season, accumulating plenty of made cuts without really contending. Having said that, he did pick up a decent T7 at the recent Charles Schwab Challenge. Na is a brilliant operator on these precision-based courses. He is usually magnificent with the short irons and he just needs a few putts to drop. This course just looks perfect for Na.

Justin Harding- To Win 30/1 | To Place 13/2

Harding could have been in contention at London were it not for a cold putter. How often is a cold putter the death of Harding? But looking a bit deeper, Harding’s ball-striking stats at Centurion were rather impressive. He finished 6th for GIR and 13th for Driving Accuracy. Before he joined the LIV Tour, he finished 16th and 5th in his final two European Tour events. This is just a course that could suit the South African perfectly. And perhaps there’s a reason that the South Africans performed so well in the first LIV event. They are used to being split between the tours and seem perfectly capable of switching from one set of conditions to another. This adaptability could be crucial in this new, chaotic venture.

The Man to Beat- Talor Gooch- To Win 14/1 | To Place 3/1

I think Talor Gooch could thrive in this ultimate test of accuracy. He won his only US PGA Tour title at last year’s RSM Classic. He has also competed very well at Torrey Pines and TPC Sawgrass. This is an indication that he thrives on classical tests that reward accuracy over power. He often ranks near the top in Shots Gained: Approach on tour. Gooch is perhaps one of the least flashy names on the LIV roster. But he has five top 20 finishes this year and he could shine in this reduced, 48-man format.

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