After being busy in the off-season transfer market, the LIV rosters are finally set and the 2024 season-opener is ready for kick off at El Camaleón Golf Club in Mayakoba, Mexico, with Jon Rahm’s debut the major pre-tournament talking point.
The reigning Masters champion is by far the biggest acquisition that LIV have made since entering the market two years ago, and was a firm reminder that any thoughts that they were old news were premature.
Rahm’s Legion XIII team – the 13th team on LIV’s roster – is completed by fellow debutants Tyrrell Hatton, Caleb Surrat and Kieran Vincent. Hatton needs no introduction, while Surrat is making his first professional appearance after representing the United States in the Walker Cup at St. Andrews in 2023, and Vincent, a Zimbabwean native, earned promotion through the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
Recently voted DP World Tour Player of the Year Adrian Meronk is the other high-profile debutant, making a last-minute move to join the Martin Kaymer captained Cleeks GC, filling one of the vacancies left after Graeme McDowell’s move to Brooks Koepka’s Smash GC.
McDowell is one of the players who was left in limbo after the 2023 season, and the Portrush man will be keen to get off to a fast start and Mayakoba is a favoured venue, site of the former US Open champion’s last PGA Tour win, albeit some nine years previous.
It’s no surprise that Rahm starts as the pre-tournament favourite, but despite facing just 51 players, he of course faces stiff competition with an additional 12 major champions in the lineup for 2024. The bookmakers making recent DP World Tour winner Joaquin Niemann second favourite, and the trio of Bryson DeChambeau, Hatton and Cameron Smith next in line.
Last year, Charles Howell III closed out with a 63 to take his first LIV victory, eventually winning by four from Peter Uihlein and taking the first place prize money of $4 million. The same prize awaits this year’s winner, with the purse again measuring $20 million.
Rahm’s debut also sees the big Spaniard go off the first tee – typically reserved for the marquee player – alongside last year’s rankings winner Talor Gooch and the recently married Aussie Smith.
Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Joaquin Niemann will begin their opening rounds on number two, with Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia set to start on hole number three.
McDowell’s Smash career starts with a grouping with old Ryder Cup teammate Ian Poulter and they’ll get a first-hand look at the 6′ 5″ Meronk who can count himself extremely unlucky not to have made his Ryder Cup debut last September and for whom future participation is far from guaranteed now.