Graeme McDowell is in action at LIV Golf’s Chicago Invitational at Rich Harvest Farms this week, with the Northern Irishman hoping to improve his team’s ranking as well as his own standings in the LIV rankings.
G-Mac starts this week’s LIV Golf event occupying 39th in the player standings while his team, Cleeks GC, props up the team rankings as the 12th and last of all of the teams.
McDowell is coming off the back of his best finish on the LIV tour this season with a 12th-placed finish at the previous event at the Bedminster Invitational with rounds of 72, 71 and 69 but finished 12 shots back from Cameron Smith who ran away with the tournament.
The man from Portrush was also the only player on Cleeks GC to contribute to the team score in all three rounds with the group recording three rounds of one-over-par as they struggled to a ninth-place finish.
Due to the nature of LIV events, however, building momentum may be an issue for the solo Major winner as the Bedminster Invitational took place between the 11th and 13th of August.
Looking ahead to the tour’s event taking place an hour outside the Windy City, Cameron Smith will start the competition with a healthy lead at the top of the LIV Golf player standings as the defending champion in the sophomore event at Rich Harvest Farms.
At a pre-tournament press conference, Smith spoke about the defence of his Chicago title and about the difficulty in bringing his momentum from Bedminster into this weekend.
“Yeah, it’s definitely in the back of the mind for sure. It’s hard not to really think about it. I kind of wish this tournament had come a little sooner. Five weeks off; it’s hard to say the momentum is really still there. It’s obviously a course that I’ve played well on before. It’s a course that I enjoy playing.”
With this week’s event being the third from last on the LIV Tour, there is also interest in the bottom half of the LIV standings with the tour adopting a football-style ‘open zone’ ahead of the 2024 season – effectively a relegation zone crossed with free agency.
Only the 14 team captains and players within the top 24 of the player standings will be safe from this ‘open zone’, while players that fail to check these boxes will enter free agency to either move between LIV teams or leave the tour if not signed to a team.
McDowell is one of the players who is currently failing to meet these requirements along with other notable names such as Charl Schwartzel, Marc Leishman and Paul Casey.
The LIV Golf Chicago Invitational gets underway this Friday at 6:15 Irish time with McDowell teeing off alongside Cleeks GC teammates Bernd Wiesberger and Richard Bland.
Defending champion and Ripper GC captain Smith tees off alongside Smash GC captain, Brooks Koepka, and HyFlyers GC captain, Phil Mickelson.