Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of LIV Golf Bangkok taking place at Stonehill Golf Course.
2022 LIV Golf
LIV Golf Bangkok
Stonehill Golf Course, Bangkok, Thailand
The controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf series will be heading to Asia for the first time after a four-week stint Stateside. While I’m not the biggest fan of the entire initiative, you can’t deny that the event seems to have taken a degree of shape in recent weeks.
The burgeoning competition between LIV goliath Dustin Johnson and Open champ Cameron Smith is exactly the sort of heavyweight rivalry that the tour needed. This is a significant week as it is the 2nd last event of the individual season ahead of Jeddah.
The 48-man field will be desperate for some points ahead of next week’s final individual event in Jeddah.
They will also be jostling for position with the season-ending Team Championship to be held in Miami later this month.
LIV Golf will once again be played at a course owned by an excessively wealthy businessman. Owned by Sarath Ratanavadi, who made his fortune as the founder of one of Thailand’s biggest energy firms, Stonehill Golf Course only opened for action earlier this year. It is a little piece of paradise that sits on 340-acres of land in the Pacific Rim.
This makes it a particularly challenging assignment for sports scribes such as myself. It is a par 72 that measures over 7,200 yards in length. This automatically seems to suggest that bombers such as Johnson should thrive in these environs.
The course is punctuated by plenty of sprawling bunkers and features perfectly manicured greens. It looks generous from the tee and I think you can expect pretty low-scoring this week.
DJ and Cameron Smith are unsurprisingly inseparable in the upper echelons of the betting market. Johnson hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in any LIV event, quickly establishing himself as the Rory McIlroy of LIV Golf. Cameron Smith has taken to the tour like a duck to water, winning in Chicago in just his 2nd LIV start.
It is quite hard to actually visualize another winner outside of these two titans. Joaquin Niemann will have to be at his very best to supplant both Johnson and Smith. Elsewhere, Patrick Reed has flittered in and out of contention this season. But he still has the capacity to string together an amazing performance at any moment.
Elsewhere, the likes of Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson will be keen to impress after pretty disappointing campaigns.
This is one of the dangers of this new tour. With some of these players being paid obscene appearance fees, there is the real possibility that they won’t feel motivated to produce their best golf come tournament time.
Deep down, you will find that most of these guys are still more motivated by the allure of winning further Majors than scoring LIV Golf victories.
Betting Favourites (To Win): Dustin Johnson (9/2), Cameron Smith (9/2), Joaquin Niemann (7/1), Louis Oosthuizen (14/1), Talor Gooch (16/1)
Lee Westwood- To Win (35/1), To Place (7/1)
The evergreen Westwood is a tee-to-green demon who has a fabulous history in Asia. The 49-year-old has won eight times on the Asian Tour (including twice in Thailand). These courses tend to reward strong, accurate driving (a hallmark of Westwood’s game).
His form has also been pretty decent, all things considered. He finished in a tie for 13th during his controversial appearance at last month’s BMW PGA Championship. He has also transitioned to LIV Golf pretty seamlessly, finishing T6 at Bedminster and T4 in Boston.
The Man to Beat
Cameron Smith- To Win (9/2), To Place (94/100)
I can’t look past Cameron Smith making it back-to-back LIV titles this week. He romped home to a three-shot victory in Chicago and his relaxed attitude just seems perfectly suited to the brand of golf being played on this tour.
A Players Champion and Open Champion this year, Smith just makes sense given the little that we know about this layout. He hits the ball a mile and is arguably the best putter in the world.
I expect this to be a low-scoring affair and the Aussie is absolutely deadly with the flatstick. Furthermore, he is also one of the most accomplished bunker players in the world. This should in handy on a course absolutely littered with traps.