April 7, 2024

LIV Golf players have just as good a chance at the Masters as their PGA Tour counterparts – despite playing 54-hole, no-cut tournaments – believes iconic coach Butch Harmon.


The first major of the golfing season gets underway on Thursday at Augusta National in Georgia, and will have a LIV Golf star as defending champion. Jon Rahm took home the first green jacket of his career in 2023, before defecting to LIV in a deal worth £450million late in the year.


Since then, he’s played in just four competitive tournaments this year – including this weekend in Miami, all under the LIV banner and all adhering to the rules of the Saudi Arabia-funded breakaway series.


There have been suggestions that playing in a relaxed atmosphere, with music blaring, might not be ample preparation for playing in arguably the most important major in the sport, but Harmon believes that isn’t the case.



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When asked by Mirror Sport whether he felt the LIV players would ever reach a point where they struggle to compete at major tournaments with those of the PGA Tour, the iconic coach insisted he felt the likes of Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson would be just as competitive as anyone.


He explained: “I can’t say they’re not well prepared because if you look at Brooks Koepka last year they’re ready to play, they’re good players.”


He added: “Secondly, it’s a different environment there’s no doubt about that. The money’s pretty much guaranteed, the move over there was all about money, I think you’re looking at the great players – Rahm, DJ, Brooks, even go down the list and there’s a whole bunch of them, 13, playing at the Masters – these guys can still play golf.


Masters champion Jon Rahm has played five competitive tournaments this year – including this week’s LIV Golf Miami.


“To say they’re not going to be competitive is wrong, yes they play 54 holes in a more relaxed atmosphere, but they’re still some of the best players in the world.


“Look at what Joaquin Niemann has done this year, he’s been on fire, I think you’ll see a few LIV players at Augusta be right there and have a chance to win – Jon Rahm will be one of them, the defending champion.”


Joaquin Niemann has, indeed, been on fire on the LIV circuit so far this season, having won two events so far. He’s been quite open about the fact LIV players currently don’t receive Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, a subject that divides opinion throughout the sport.


Joaquin Niemann’s sensational start to the year has not prevented him from sliding down the OWGR.


Joaquin Niemann’s sensational start to the year has not prevented him from sliding down the OWGR

Players on the LIV circuit have seen their world ranking tumble as a result of the lack of OWGR points, with Niemann currently sat in 91st position – a ludicrous position for a man tipped to win his first major this week.


But Harmon believes the issue could be easily sorted if LIV CEO Greg Norman were to make a key change to the way the league is ran. He explained: “I think personally I’d like to see them go to 72 holes, expand their fields a bit, I think they’d get world ranking points if they’d do that.”


The Masters will be available on Sky Sports Golf and via a NOW subscription from 11th – 14th April, and you can follow all the latest news on Sky Sports social and digital channels throughout the week.

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