US Open 2024: The LIV Golf stars hoping to secure glory for the Saudi-backed Tour at Pinehurst

Men’s professional golf reunites at Pinehurst as LIV players do battle with their former colleagues in a bid for Major glory at the US Open. Join me as I take a closer look at the 12 stars from the Saudi-backed league hoping to hoist the trophy come Sunday evening. 

Ahead of last month’s PGA Championship Bryson DeChambeau was in a feisty mood when asked about the chances of LIV Golf’s Valhalla contingent. “We have the firepower to play well and win a major championship,” was his battle cry. “We know how to get it done. It’s just a matter of time.” 

Having talked the talk, DeChambeau then walked the walk. 

Everything about his performance was the very best of this compelling character. He was bold (firing at even the most tucked-away pins), brash (issuing fist pumps that bruised the air), brilliant (when carding a Sunday 64), and brave (his birdie on the 72nd hole was not so much holed by his putter as by will power).  

Bryson gets pumped up in the final round of the 2024 PGA Championship

In the end, it was not quite enough but it was only Xander Schauffele who could repel the charge and prevent him winning a second Major Championship. 

Ahead of LIV Houston, the final event before the US Open, DeChambeau said: “I was frustrated and disappointed not to win. I wanted LIV players to win that PGA Championship back-to-back. That would have been cool. I’m just excited now to continue the good play.” 

Can he ride the wave into Pinehurst? Or will another LIV golfer strike US Open gold? Let’s take a look. 

DeChambeau on a High

Speaking of his performance at Valhalla, DeChambeau said “I just threw it all out there” and there is no doubt that the public warmed to that attitude. 

His celebrations – both of a chip-in for eagle on the 18th green late on Saturday and also throughout the final round – went viral, as did a video of him halting his progress to the 10th tee on Sunday to berate an adult for pinching a ball he had thrown to a young spectator.  

Here was a golfer full of confidence. One, you sense, who was still feeling the buzz of two sensational victories in the late summer of 2023. At LIV Greenbrier he fired barely believable closing rounds of 61-58 and a few weeks later turned an eight-shot pre-final round deficit into a one-shot victory with a Sunday 63 at LIV Chicago. 

Memories of DeChambeau’s fellow LIV golfer Brooks Koepka rolling his eyes at him are not forgotten but they are now a little outdated. Socially awkward then, he is now a social media star with his YouTube channel particularly popular. 

The fans have always had a soft spot for his antics, hooting and hollering in concert with him when he launched and landed an enormous drive across water, on a line towards the green no other golfer had ever considered on the par-5, at Bay Hill in 2021.

Arnold Palmer Invitational 2021 - Bryson DeChambeau drives a green

He didn’t help himself when claiming that he treated Augusta National as a par-66, not least because he then went 12 laps of the course without coming close to equalling that number (and failed to beat the actual par of 72 nine times). 

Always a LIV fan favorite, when he finally did break 66 at Augusta, with a first-round 65 in April, it not only set up his bid for a green jacket, it also kickstarted the revival of his reputation with all fans.

LIV Golf’s powerful US Open pedigree 

DeChambeau himself knows how to win a US Open, breaking through at the top level with a victory at Winged Foot that briefly threatened to change the way the sport was played. 

But he is far from the only LIV golfer who knows how to win the third major of the year

Dustin Johnson is one, winning in 2016 at Oakmont just two years after he was fourth at this year’s venue Pinehurst. 

He was succeeded 12 months later at Erin Hills by Brooks Koepka who promptly defended his title at Shinnecock Hills.

Jon Rahm won the 2021 US Open.

In 2021 Jon Rahm triumphed at Torrey Pines, beating his fellow LIV performer Louis Oosthuizen by one. 

Neither Rahm nor Oosthuizen play in this year’s tournament and neither does the 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell. Rahm was exempt but, having arrived at Pinehurst, he was forced to withdraw with the foot injury that saw him exit LIV Golf Houston midway through the second round.

But Martin Kaymer returns to the scene of his 2014 victory – an eight-shot demolition of the field that was the high point of his career. 

How did the LIV golfers qualify? 

DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, and Dustin Johnson are all past champions. Cameron Smith finished in the top 10 last year, Phil Mickelson earns a spot as the 2021 PGA Championship winner, Tyrrell Hatton qualified for and played in last year’s Tour Championship and Adrian Meronk’s ranking of fourth in the 2023 Race to Dubai earned him a spot. 

The two young Spaniards Eugenio Chacarra and David Puig won spots at Final Qualifying, as did the in-form South African Dean Burmester. 

LIV Golf singapore 2024 - Talor Gooch

Who didn’t qualify? 

In all 15 LIV players didn’t progress from Final Qualifying. The biggest star among them was Joaquin Niemann, the Chilean who has played superb golf since the end of last year but who remains an enigma in the majors. His two failures to land a top 10 in them earlier this year mean that he has now gone 21 starts without one (and he has only one top 20).  

More surprisingly, neither Talor Gooch nor Patrick Reed even attempted to qualify

LIV major qualification remains an issue 

The decisions of Gooch and Reed to miss qualification don’t, on the face of it, make a lot of sense (assuming they didn’t have perfectly good off-the-course reasons not to do so) but Gooch especially is playing well enough to be in the field. 

And, despite Niemann’s inability to contend in a major, he is deserving of a place in the majors because he is one of the sport’s top 30 performers. 

LIV has given up on gaining official world rankings points to access the majors but the USGA’s chief championship officer John Bodenhamer told Golf Channel that the organization is planning to take action. 

“You know, we’ve watched what is happening in professional golf unfold and we’ve seen a lot of good players go over to LIV and so we’re thinking a lot about it, we’ve talked a lot about it,” he said. 

“I think it’s reasonable to expect that at some point, yes, we would create a pathway or some way that we would get those great players, give them an opportunity to be unified again, we get a lot of them and there will be a lot that will play this week through exemption, a number of past champions and qualifiers so yeah, I think we’re looking very seriously at that.”

Brooks Koepka picked up his first victory of the season at LIV Golf Singapore

LIV golfers at Pinehurst 

Bryson DeChambeau (Odds 16/1) 

Championship record: MC-15-MC-25-35-1-26-56-20 

The 30-year-old’s bold showing in the first two majors of the season had been coming. On the one hand he’d started hitting the top 10 in the majors again after a two-year drought following his victory in this championship at Winged Foot in 2020. He’d also displayed his capacity to go low at LIV with a dizzying seven sub-64 scores in seven starts either side of New Year. He couldn’t hold on to a pre-cut lead in the Masters and that sensational final round 64 was denied by Schauffele at Valhalla, but he is not knocking on the door, he is banging on it. 

Brooks Koepka (Odds 20/1) 

Championship record: MC-4-18-13-1-1-2-4-55-17 

The two-time US Open champion was at his niggly best when asked to judge his defense of the PGA last month. “Not very good,” he said. “I think it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?” Was he making progress someone wondered? “I don’t think finishing 30th is progress,” he deadpanned. He can’t be discounted, however. In 10 championship starts he’s only twice failed to make the top 20 and five times he ended the week in the top four. 

Cameron Smith (Odds 33/1) 

Championship record: 4-59-MC-72-38-MC-MC-4 

“My US Open record isn’t that great,” the Aussie admitted last year. “The driver gets me in trouble. That’s where the tournament can get away from me.” Despite such gloom, he did finish fourth, one of three top 10s in the six majors since he won the 150th Open at St Andrews. Very wayward driving can be punished at Pinehurst, but there is a little more space than usual. And the greens, with the need for high-class lag putting, somewhat resemble those at the Old Course. This could be a good week for him. 

Tyrrell Hatton (Odds 50/1) 

Championship record: MC-6-21-MC-MC-56-27 

Further to the point made above, two of the four Pinehurst major champions were Old Course winners, and the other two very nearly won the Open there. That could be good news for Hatton, a two-time champion and two-time runner-up at the Dunhill Links, as well as Smith. He’s admitted to being yet to adjust to the pace of LIV’s 54-hole golf but he did post a career-best ninth in the Masters. 

Dustin Johnson won LIV Golf Las Vegas.

Dustin Johnson (Odds 66/1) 

Championship record: 48-40-8-23-MC-55-4-2-1-MC-3-35-6-19-24-10 

Ten years ago the 39-year-old spent all week at Pinehurst inside the top six on his way to a first top five finish in the championship. He rode the wave a year later to finish second and a year after that he landed his first major triumph at Oakmont. Form-wise, he won LIV Las Vegas in February but since then has landed just once top 20 in seven starts. 

Dean Burmester (Odds 100/1) 

Championship record: 56-MC 

Unquestionably one of the form players in the world right now, the South African recorded back-to-back wins on the DP World Tour in late 2023, landed a maiden LIV victory in April, and then added a first flirtation with the top end of a major championship leaderboard last month at Valhalla. He ended both the second and third rounds four shots back of the lead and inside the top 10 before ending the week T12th.  

Garcia targets a better performance at Pinehurst after initially missing the cut in Final Qualifying

Sergio Garcia (Odds 125/1)

Championship Record: T46-T12-4-T35-T20-T3-MC-MC-T18-T10-T22-T7-T38-T45-T35-T18-T5-T21-MC

Garcia failed to make the grade at final qualifying, losing out on a spot at Dallas Athletic Club in Texas. Sergio had got into the playoff at the USGA event for a final position before making a bogey on the first playoff hole to lose out. Fortunately for the man from Borriol, his finish granted him a first alternate spot and has seen him be able to take to the stage in what will be his 25th US Open.

David Puig (Odds 200/1) 

Championship record: 39 

The 22-year-old Spaniard has got to grips with the Asian Tour’s International Series, recording nine straight top 15 including two wins, but in the same period he’s gone 10 LIV starts without one top 10. He secured a second US Open start with brilliant rounds of 68-64 to win his section of Final Qualifying in Daly City, California. 

Phil Mickelson (Odds 200/1) 

Championship record: 29-55-MC-47-4-94-43-10-2-16-7-2-55-2-33-2-MC-18-2-4-54-65-2-28-64-MC-48-52-MC-62-MC-MC 

The 53-year-old recently admitted to Bloomberg News that: “My career, you know, it’s, if I’m being truthful, it’s on … it’s, it’s, it’s … it’s towards its end.” There is only one gap in the CV and that is victory in this event. It’s his favorite and would complete the career grand slam. You’d say it’s beyond him but this is Phil Mickelson we’re talking about so don’t count on it. 

Adrian Meronk at LIV Golf Singapore in 2024

Adrian Meronk (Odds 150/1) 

Championship record: MC-MC 

The Pole has not only missed the cut in both his US Open starts, he’s also missed five cuts in six US major championship starts. A second round 69 in the PGA Championship was his first sub-74 score in his four rounds of major golf this year. 

Martin Kaymer (Odds 200/1) 

Championship record: 53-MC-8-39-15-59-1-MC-37-35-MC-35-MC-26-MC 

The German has just one major championship top-10 finish since winning at Pinehurst in 2014 and that came eight years ago. He also hasn’t recorded a top 10 anywhere since June 2021. 

Eugenio Chacarra (Odds 500/1) 

Championship record: Debut 

A major championship debut for the shock winner of LIV Bangkok in 2022. He recorded his best result of the season, and just a second top 30, when T10th at LIV Singapore. 

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About the author

Matt Cooper is an experienced golf journalist who has covered countless Major tournaments.

Matt Cooper
Contributing Writer

Matt Cooper has been a golf journalist for 15 years. He’s worked for, among others, Golf365, SkySports, ESPN, NBC, Sporting Life, and the Guardian. He specializes in feature writing, reporting and tournament analysis.

He’s traveled widely in that time, covering golf from Kazakhstan to South Korea via Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

More straightforwardly, he’s also covered numerous Majors, Ryder Cups and Solheim Cups.

Follow Matt on Twitter.

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