The LIV Golf Tour heads to Saudi Arabia next for LIV Golf Jeddah set to take place at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.
2022 LIV Golf
LIV GOLF Jeddah
Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, Saudi Arabia
Well, I guess it’s fair to say that no one saw last week’s result coming. Spain’s Eugenio Lopez-Chapurra picked up what could be the defining title in his career with a runaway victory in Bangkok.
You can read that one of two ways. You can say that it’s always nice to see a true underdog victory (especially with this much cash involved). But you can also speculate about the motivation of the likes of DJ and Cam Smith.
Sure, they have already impressed themselves upon the tour with victories. But just how seriously are they taking these late-season events?
DJ pocketed 4 million dollars for his victory in Boston. Cool. He already made around 125 million dollars for signing on. And it’s not as if there’s any world ranking points at stake.
And to make matters worse: DJ has already clinched the individual player awards ahead of this week’s final individual event in Jeddah. It brings to mind the question of motivation again. What will be DJ’s motivation to bring his best golf to bear this week?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too shocked by rank outsiders contending in these ‘elite’ events. For them the money is life-changing. It’s a drop in the ocean for players such as Koepka and DeChambeau.
Royal Greens Golf and Country Club
Royal Greens Golf and Country Club is by no means a mystery to anyone who has followed the PGA Tour’s expansion into Asia over the past few years.
It has played host to all four editions of the Saudi Invitational (an event mired in the same sportswashing controversy as this entire LIV series).
Designed by Dave Sampson, Royal Greens is a beautifully maintained course decorated with a host of glorious fauna. It isn’t a particularly long par 70 at just a smidge over 7,000 yards.
The biggest defence of the course comes from the gusts bellowing from the Red Sea. Players must negotiate the changing wind as the course weaves in and out in multiple directions.
The vast, undulating greens necessitate accurate approach play and consistent putting.
I know that I have been harping on extensively about DJ’s motivation. But that may be slightly offset by the fact that he has absolutely dominated the Saudi International since its inception in 2019 (winning it twice and finishing runner-up a further time).
It will be interesting to see if DJ treats this like a proper event or a glorified vacation. Cam Smith had a poor week in Bangkok and will be keen on a strong finish to further his reputation as perhaps the leading player in world golf.
Joaquin Niemann and Patrick Reed have been knocking on the door recently and could again be in contention.
This should be a picturesque end to the individual season as the tour shifts focus to the season-ending Team Championship (which will be hosted at Doral later this month).
To Win Outright:
Dustin Johnson 9/2 | Cameron Smith 6/1 | Joaquin Niemann 9/1 | Patrick Reed 16/1 | Brooks Koepka 20/1
Paul Casey- To Win 20/1 | To Place 44/10
Paul Casey comes into this event with decent course history at Royal Greens, finishing 12th in 2021 and 24th earlier this year. That 24th place finish did include an excellent 3rd round 64 that showcased his ability to handle this test. He has had a bit of a rollercoaster opening season in LIV Golf. He finished 6th at Bedminster before a couple of disappointing turns. But he bounced back last week with an excellent third place finish in Bangkok. He is a renowned iron player who should be able to get closer than most to some of the pins.
The Man to Beat- Joaquin Niemann- To Win 9/1 | To Place 39/20
I know that the conventional wisdom is seriously pointing toward DJ this week. But as I noted earlier, DJ has very little to play for this week. But I think Niemann is trending nicely and could be a real factor this week. He finished runner-up in Boston in his first LIV appearance (he lost to DJ in a dramatic playoff). He followed that up with another top 5 finish in Chicago. He started poorly in Bangkok but closed with a Sunday 65, ensuring that he comes into this event with decent form. He is a strong iron player who should be able to find the right areas of these notoriously tricky green complexes.