Team golf as we know it is getting turned on its side next month when LIV Golf hosts its first Team Championship in Miami at Trump National Doral. The upstart league announced the format for its final 2022 event Tuesday, which will incorporate byes, singles matches, stroke play and alternate shot. Even teams selecting their opponents.
LIV Golf began its controversial campaign with all kinds of uncertainty in June and has progressed through the summer to this current moment, where $50 million will be dished out in one weekend. With 12 teams competing through seven events (two of which take place in the next three weeks), the cumulative team points earned will offer four teams a first-round bye. Dustin Johnson’s 4 Aces, which have won the last four LIV events, are already guaranteed a bye. They’ve amassed 136 points, nearly double that of second place.
Teams seeded 5-12 will face off in quarterfinals matches on Friday, Oct. 28, where all 32 players take part in different forms. Living up to its reputation of being different, the competition will allow higher-ranked teams to select their opponents for these matches rather than simply have the 5th-seeded team automatically compete with the 12th seed. Team captains — like Phil Mickelson, Joaquin Niemann, etc. — will play one-on-one matches for a single point. They will also decide which two members of their team will pair up for an alternate-shot match, and which final player on their team will also play a singles match.
Team Championship Quarterfinals and Semifinals:
– captains singles match
– additional singles match
– alternate shot match
The order of those individual matches is not yet determined, but the end-game of each match is set in stone: there will be no ties or half-points won. Each match will play out until one player/team has won or lost. Whichever team wins at least two of those three matches moves on to the semifinals.
The semifinals will play out the same way as the quarterfinals, only now the top four teams from the regular season points race will be included, and selecting their opponents. While semifinals tends to include just four teams, this will include eight across four matches on Saturday, Oct. 29.
Finally, Sunday Oct. 30 will feature the four-team final round of stroke play. In classic LIV fashion, it will kick off with a shotgun start across eight holes. The four remaining teams (or rather 16 players) will play in twosomes for 18 holes, with every single shot counting toward their team score. If Pat Perez makes a triple bogey, the 4 Aces will have added a triple bogey to its collective score as well.
That final piece is what departs significantly from the team events LIV has produced thus far. To date, during the first two rounds of each event, only two of any team’s four scores counted. Dustin Johnson and Talor Gooch, for example, combined for an 11 under team score for the 4 Aces at the LIV Golf Chicago event, despite Patrick Reed and Pat Perez both shooting over par. Only during the final round has a third score been added to the team totals, incurring more volatility on the team leaderboard. But during the ever-important final round blitz at LIV Golf Miami, all scores will count. Whichever team combines for the lowest score will be crowned the champions. For LIV Golf supporters, it’ll be just what they’ve been yearning for.
As previously mentioned, $50 million will be on offer at the team championship, a once-preposterous prize fund never before seen in pro golf. But the money in play has been a major point of contention for LIV Golf critics. Plenty of it has been guaranteed to those who defected from the PGA Tour, and the vast majority of it has come from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which has long been interested in the sport but has only recently bought its way into golf in as brash a way as possible. The team that wins the event in Miami will split evenly $16 million, with $10 million going to the second place finishers and $8 million for third. Each LIV team will be taking home at least $1 million for taking part.
Considering the event takes place just weeks after the end of the LIV regular season, in which there is also $25 million on offer in Jeddah, as well as $30 million dished out to the top three individual finishers throughout the season, it’s looking like the best performers on LIV’s eight-event 2022 schedule will amass anywhere from $10 million to whatever total Dustin Johnson pulls in. As the top individual performer on what has clearly been the top team, Johnson could rack up more than $30 million in on-course earnings, which comes in addition to the reported $125 million he earned by signing on with LIV in May.