Did LIV Golf punch above its weight at the 2024 Masters, PGA Championship, and US Open?

Bryson DeChambeau landed the knockout blow at the US Open in LIV Golf’s latest coup, but how have Greg Norman’s elite fared in 2024’s biggest prize fights?

LIV Golf’s pound-for-pound king had threatened to cause a major upset all year with a tied sixth-place finish at the Masters, followed up with a swashbuckling second place at the PGA Championship in Valhalla.

And in June’s ‘Showdown in the Sandhills,’ golf’s new undisputed ‘people’s champion’ got the job done by staying true to his authentic brand of crushing power with a competitive scientific edge.

Pinehurst stayed true to its ‘raison d’etre’ too, mind, punishing the slightest inaccuracies with anxiety-inducing approaches from its wiregrass wastelands and precarious pitches onto its turtleback greens.

Bryson best survived the Tiger Woods dubbed “war of attrition” that was Pinehurst No.2 at the 124th US Open with only ten others finishing level par or better for the week, all of the PGA persuasion.

Bryson DeChambeau hugging the US Open trophy

Ironically, it was Sergio Garcia, squeaking in as a last-minute alternate, who cropped up next for the LIV fraternity in a tie for 12th, with 2023 PGA Champion Brooks Koepka down at six-over for T26.

Valhalla was much the same story with DeChambeau battling for glory, pipped this time by Xander Schauffele, with his closest bandmate, Dean Burmester lagging a further eight strokes off the pace.

At least back in Augusta, Bryson wasn’t the sole LIV flag bearer at the right end of the leaderboard with Cameron Smith, Tyrrell Hatton and Patrick Reed all having solid Masters campaigns.

LIV stars at the 2024 US majors

The MastersPGA ChampionshipUS Open
Bryson DeChambeauT62WON
Jon RahmT45CUTWD
Brooks KoepkaT45T26T26
Dustin JohnsonCUTT43CUT
Sergio GarciaCUTT12
Phil MickelsonT43CUTCUT
Cameron SmithT6T63T32
Patrick ReedT12T53
Tyrrell HattonT9T63T26

LIV players made 41 appearances across the season’s first three majors, representing 15, 10, and 8% of the fields respectively. And given these players earned their exemptions largely through past successes in majors, or recent performances of note, a strong LIV presence across all four days would seem a minimum expectation.

Sergio Garcia posts a cool bogey-free 69 in round one of the US Open

The PGA Championship saw LIV’s strongest ‘team’ performance with 11 of 16 going on to make the cut, increasing the LIV proportion of the field from 10 to 14%. The US Open also saw a net increase from 8 to 11%, with only the Masters seeing LIV’s relative numbers reduced at the weekend (15 to 13%). Approximately two-thirds of LIV players at US major championships in 2024 went on to make the cut (62-67%).

Making the cut, however, is not a benchmark that this caliber of player or the wider golf community will shout home about. The Great White has a stable full of major winners old and new, and competing for silverware on a Sunday should be the Norm(an).

In 2024, the LIV versus PGA narrative failed to fully spark into life until DeChambeau and McIlroy’s gripping to-and-fro at Pinehurst. Koepka, Mickelson, and Smith at least chipped in a bit more in 2023.

Until the ‘powers that be’ break through the merger deadlock, we will inevitably keep hyping up these head-to-head battles that remain relatively elusive given Norman has wrestled away players at their peak including Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith, and Dustin Johnson.

Jon Rahm withdrew from LIV Golf Houston and the US Open with a foot injury

Does LIV have a 72-hole problem?

What’s to be said of Wyndham Clark’s comments that came back to haunt him at the Masters this year? Does LIV have a 72-hole stamina issue? Was it just clumsy and mistimed, or could there be an element of truth?

Well, LIV players shot 72.88 (MAS), 68.13 (PGA), and 73.13 (USO) on average in round four compared to the field average of 72.48, 69.26, and 71.78. In comparison, the highest world-ranked PGA Tour counterparts on each of the major leaderboards shot a round four average of 72.63, 66.50, and 71.63 respectively.

Aside, from performing notably better than the combined round four field average at the PGA Championship (-0.99 shots), the stats don’t make great reading, particularly when compared to the PGA big guns who out-shot them by 0.25, 1.63, and 1.50 strokes on average on Sundays.

Round four and 54-hole averages at the US majors

LIV R4LIV 54PGA R4PGA 54Field R4Field 54
PGA Championship68.1369.0866.5068.5469.1269.12
US Open73.1371.1771.6370.2171.7371.73
*PGA sample = average of top 8 players in the OWGR who made the cut.
Tony Finau bounced back on Sunday with a 67 to finish T3

Wyndham’s wishful thinking was that any LIV drop-off in performance after 54 holes could well be disproportional to the field due to their shorter working week. On the evidence from Valhalla at least, the evidence disagrees. LIV players improved by 0.96 shots in the final round of the PGA Championship from their 54-hole average for the tournament.

It was only Pinehurst with its pitfalls that appeared to trip them up disproportionately to the wider field, dropping 1.96 shots on average in the final round while managing to limit the damage to just a 0.04 shot drop-off at the Masters.

The PGA Tour’s highest-ranked followed suit, showing their pedigree at the PGA Championship by shifting up a gear on Sunday while struggling more as the tournament went on at the US Open and Masters. Team PGA had the edge in Pinehurst and Valhalla with smaller drop-offs (1.42 v 1.96) and bigger gains respectively (-2.04 v -0.96).

Not the case at Augusta though, dropping almost a shot more (0.96) than Team LIV in round four compared to their 54-hole average.

Xander Schauffele broke the Major scoring record and wins a record $3.3m at the 2024 PGA Championship.

Ultimately, LIV’s 72-hole pedigree at majors is still up for debate. There’s certainly no compelling evidence to support Clark’s snipes, but questions are justified as to whether LIV’s stars are shining as brightly as they should in majors – although there is no denying which one is glowing considerably brighter than the rest. DeChambeau’s second US Open win is not just a coup for LIV but perhaps a catalyst for golf’s new and united frontier.

It’s one of the first things the man himself alluded to, “I hope this win can bridge the gap between a divided game.”

“Let bygones be bygones and go figure it out. Let’s figure out this amazing game that creates so much positivity back to where it belongs. From at least what I can tell, that’s what the fans want, and they deserve that,” said DeChambeau.

Bryson DeChambeau raking the site of his famous bunker shot on Pinehurst's 18th hole

He’s not wrong, and has more than played his part in trying to break the PGA-PIF merger deadlock that we’re told is “still making progress” despite players still in the dark as to what that really means.

Ahead of the Players Championship in March, PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan confidently announced a “shared vision to quiet the noise and unlock golf’s worldwide potential.”

In the months since though, the only thing ‘quiet’ seems to be the mysterious shared vision itself. The latest teaser came just days before the US Open when Tiger Woods described a “light at the end of the tunnel” that has restricted the best head-to-head battles in the sport to a handful of times a year.

Jay Monahan address the media at the Players Championship and offers an update on the PGA Tour's merger with the PIF.

But for now, the PGA and LIV Tour cogs grind back into gear in Connecticut and Nashville, just days after the dust has settled in the North Carolina sandhills.

The Open in Troon will be the next chapter in LIV’s history at the majors, beyond that the Paris Olympic Games, of which Bryson will play no part due to qualification criteria being locked in two years ago.

It’s another loss for the sport who miss out on a golden opportunity to engage an entirely new fanbase yet to feel cheated out of weekly box office bouts.

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About the author

Ross Tugwood is a Senior Digital Writer for Today's Golfer.

Ross Tugwood

Senior Digital Writer

Ross Tugwood is a Senior Digital Writer for todays-golfer.com, specializing in data, analytics, science, and innovation.

Ross is passionate about optimizing sports performance and has a decade of experience working with professional athletes and coaches for British Athletics, the UK Sports Institute, and Team GB.

He is an NCTJ-accredited journalist with post-graduate degrees in Performance Analysis and Sports Journalism, enabling him to critically analyze and review the latest golf equipment and technology to help you make better-informed buying decisions.

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