First Tee to Last Call: LIV & Let Live?
Whether you are for or against it, the LIV Golf Tour appears to be here to stay.
The new “professional” golf tour is perhaps one of the most controversial league off-shoots ever. I will not go the route of bashing this league and delving into its politics. At this point, it is well documented that the backing comes from a part of the world that isn’t typically known for its moral compass.
So, what is this tour all about? At its core, I think LIV is trying to be disruptive to what some people would consider a stale PGA Tour. The main problem LIV faced was getting quality players to join up.
That problem was quickly solved with money. The quality of players it attracts seems to be increasing daily. Rumors are circulating that even more “TOP” players will be defecting from the PGA in the coming weeks.
Time will tell. It’s tough to fault some of the players joining. The lower-ranked players can and will make more money coming in dead last in a LIV event than they would make throughout a career on the PGA Tour.
If you want to chase the money, it won’t take long to understand that this tour is backed by Saudi Arabian money. Most lead-ins to mentioning the LIV Tour will state this.
While I am not in favor of supporting the atrocities perpetrated by the Saudi Arabian government, it wouldn’t take you long digging into the books of other entertainment sources around the world to find a lot of unsavory financial backing tied to them as well.
In a two-minute Google search, you can find many other big brands and leagues that fall into this category. Depending on what you believe, this tour is a continuation of “sportswashing,” or trying to create cultural changes to better its country over time through the financial backing of this league.
I don’t know that I believe either side of this argument. I think the truth, at current, somehow falls in the middle of this debate. I know what I said will be an unpopular take, and I don’t need to debate the subject any further.
Controversy aside, what’s different?
• There will be 12 teams, with 48 players in each field. The captains of these 12 teams will draft a new team before each event. Three rounds will be played, with the top two scores from each team counting on the first two days and the top three scores from the four-man team counting on the third day.
• Shotgun start, no wave advantages (potentially some Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) streak advantages based on starting hole if and when it’s playable in DFS).
• No cut.
By the way, the team names are absolutely horrible.
• Seven “regular” season events.
• One championship tournament to conclude the season.
• $255 million at stake for the season. Each regular-season event will have a total purse of $20-25 million.
• $50 million total purse for the championship event.
• $54 million bonus to anyone who can shoot a total score of 54 strokes in a single round (the LIV tour is named after this feat as L-I-V is the Roman Numeral for 54).
The promise is to feature more shots and less standing around. The small amount of coverage I watched did deliver on this promise. However, it was shonestly a little jarring. It’s hard to digest the results because it’s faster-paced.
Over time, there will be more drone cameras and many more unique perspective shots. It reminds me of what the XFL tried to do versus the NFL. Time will tell how this will come together and provide a “better” viewing experience.
There is far more to know about the ins and out’s of LIV; this is just a brief overview. I know it’s an unpopular stance, but I don’t hate this concept. On the contrary, this format has a lot of potential entertainment value. I think the weekly draft is engaging for the fans. It’ll be interesting to see how the captain’s strategies change weekly and how players’ values will rise and fall through the season.
We are here to talk about the world’s biggest and best tour, the PGA, so let’s do it!
Onto the Green: Travelers Championship
TPC River Highlands Course Breakdown
• Par 70
• 6,840 yards
This tournament is typically a birdie-fest. So I would expect a lot of scoring this week. This is a shorter course that will require the ability to shape shots and use a lot of different clubs in the bag. I like golfers with good all-around shot-making prowess this week.
Key Stats (Last 36 Rounds)
• Birdies or Better Gained
• Shots Gained Approach
• Par Four Scoring
• Shots Gained Off the Tee
• Putting on Bentgrass
Travelers Championship Picks
Scottie Scheffler ($11,200)
Scottie Scheffler is just downright incredible. He is in contention every week. I am willing to pay up for him this week. All the stats I looked at are spitting out Scheffler as No. 1 overall this week. He is excellent at Par Four Scoring and leads this field in Birdie or Better Average. The price is tough to build around, but I can see him winning this week, and you’ll need him in your lineup when that happens.
Joaquin Niemann ($9,600)
Joaquin Niemann is a player who lands on my roster a lot. He’s a bit of a swiss army knife. He has every shot in the bag and then some. His off-the-tee and approach game has been outstanding, rating out No. 1 in Strokes Gained Off the Tee and No. 10 in Approach in my modeling.
Many will gravitate towards Im Sung-jae and Tony Finau again, and the narrative of Keegan Bradley playing well in this part of the world is out there. I will take the opportunity to play Niemann, who may eventually go somewhat overlooked in this price range.
Charley Hoffman ($6,500)
Charley Hoffman burns me all the time. Perhaps he is my guilty pleasure play. Mostly, I need salary relief going Scheffler and Niemann up top. They often burn me by getting down in this range and with stats like Hoffman.
However, I like him at courses like this. He can score, and his Off-the-Tee game and Approach are rating out quite well over the last 36 rounds – 24th and fourth, respectively. This is a play steeped in risk, but this is also a golfer who can win and is carrying the No. 12 ranking in birdies or better in my model. If he makes the cut, he will score you fantasy points.
Other Golfers in My Pool
• Sam Burns ($10,400)*
• Jordan Spieth ($9,900)
• Sungjae Im ($9,700)
• Davis Riley($8,900)*
• Aaron Wise ($8,800*)
• Webb Simpson ($8,500)
• Brendan Steele ($7,700)
• Mav McNealy ($7,700)
• Doc Redman ($6,500)
• Cameron Davis ($7,500)
• Matthew Wolff ($6,800)
“Last Call” Dart Throws of the Week
• Tony Finau ($9,500): Now or never, he’s been looking good.
• Kevin Kisner ($7,500): Short course? Need to putt well? Sounds like Kevin Kisner to me.
Cheers! Thanks for reading and considering my Travelers Challenge picks. Good luck this week!
Conor Coughlin (@Cough_DFS)