Asian Tour Begins Its International Series With A Strong Liv Contingent

Dean Burmester, of Stinger GC, hits from the first tee during the final round of LIV Golf Mayakoba at El Camaleón Golf Course, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. (Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via AP)
Dean Burmester, of Stinger GC, hits from the first tee during the final round of LIV Golf Mayakoba at El Camaleón Golf Course, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. (Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via AP)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joaquin Niemann, Matthew Wolff and Louis Oosthuizen will give the Asian Tour field in Oman a familiar look. Missing will be the uniforms and team scores.

They are among 21 players from Saudi-funded LIV Golf who are playing the first International Series events on the Asian Tour. The series is funded by LIV Golf and features a $2 million purse, and this one comes a week before LIV goes to Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

Some LIV players are under contract to play in occasional International Series events. For others, it's a rare chance to earn world ranking points. The Official World Golf Ranking doesn't award points to the league that has the same 53 players for the entire season (13 four-man teams and Hudson Swafford as a singles player).

It's still not enough to get any of them — particularly Lucas Herbert (No. 80) or Niemann (No. 81) — into the top 50 for the Masters. But the PGA Championship has a history of trying to get as many from the top 100 in the world ranking.

As for the other majors, David Puig earned a spot in the British Open last week when he won the Malaysian Open, part of the International Final Qualifying series. He is the third player to qualify for Royal Troon this summer through the series, following Niemann (Australian Open) and Dean Burmester (Joburg Open).

Puig and Sam Horsfield were the only players in Malaysia. Puig also is in Oman this week, meaning four straight weeks of playing. That's not unusual for players on any circuit, so it raises questions about why more LIV golfers did not seize on the opportunity. That was their best option for those who are not European tour members. Otherwise, it's final qualifying in the United Kingdom on July 2.

The U.S. Open typically takes the top 60 in the world toward the end of May, and that will make the Masters and PGA Championship critical for Adrian Meronk (No. 49 and falling), along with Niemann and Burmester, along with however they fare in Oman.


The 78-man field at PGA Tour Champions event doesn't change much from tournament to tournament, though one name stood out for the Trophy Hassan II this week in Morocco. Angel Cabrera plays for the first time since getting released from prison.

Cabrera was imprisoned for two years for threats and harassment of his partner, a case that was joined by another former partner. He was released on parole in August and has been playing in Argentina.

The PGA Tour notified Cabrera his suspension has been lifted, though he is required to comply with terms of his prison release. The 54-year-old Argentine also is welcome at the Masters as a past champion, provided he can get a visa to travel. That's been a problem.

Morocco is one of only two PGA Tour Champions events held outside North America. The other is the Senior British Open.


It's safe to say two developments in golf's TV world span generations.

CBS announced that Verne Lindquist will be at the Masters for the final time in April. Lundquist, 83, has had a long and distinguished career that includes being the radio voice of the Dallas Cowboys and the lead announcer for SEC football.

He is best known for two calls at the Masters. “Yes, sir!” he proclaimed when Jack Nicklaus pulled ahead with a birdie on the 17th hole on his way to winning in 1986. And when Tiger Woods hit that pitch on the 16th green that rolled down the hill and hung on the cup before falling, Lundquist said, “In your life have you seen anything like that?”

Meanwhile, NBC is bringing in a new voice for the Mexico Open at Vidanta. Golfweek reports longtime caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay will be the lead analyst for the final three rounds. He will be the first caddie to serve in that role.

Mackay and John Woods have both worked as on-course reporters. Mackay still likes his day job — he caddies for Justin Thomas — and this is not a step toward a new career. NBC has been trying out analysts since parting ways with Paul Azinger. In the last three months, NBC has used Paul McGinley, Kevin Kisner (twice), Curt Byrum and Brandel Chamblee.

NBC has the next seven PGA Tour events until CBS does the Masters. Back to you, Verne.


Augusta National has lengthened the course again — this time by a whopping 10 yards.

The club released its media guide for the 2024 Masters on Monday, and the only change to the course was a tee box on the par-5 second hole that is 10 yards back and to the left.

The hole now plays 585 yards. It ranked as the easiest hole last year, and cumulatively has been ranked the second-easiest hole behind the par-5 13th.


The networks have gone to a “walk and talk” with players on the weekend dating to last year, and Jim Nantz at CBS knew which button to push when he got Mackenzie Hughes of Canada signed up for the chat on Saturday at Riviera.

Hughes delivered one of the most reasoned interviews of the year at Kapalua when he talked about how much golf has emphasized money. He also spoke during Pebble Beach at a private function, which prompted Nantz to ask Hughes to share his views:

“I just think that it’s kind of unfortunate where we are in the game right now, where it seems that it’s just all about the money, it’s all about, ‘How much money can I make?’ Kind of lost the spirit of the game in the process,” Hughes said. "The reason I play the PGA Tour wasn’t because I wanted to make a million dollars. I wanted to compete against the best players in the world, make an impact on the communities that we play. That’s been the dream since I was a kid. It seems that some guys have lost a little sight of that.

“Now we’re in a place where I think fans are just generally a little bit kind of fed up with it, to be honest. Those are the people that drive our sport. So I’d love to appeal to the masses a lot more and certainly the way we’re going right now to me isn’t quite it.”


The lucrative new PGA Tour already has had three $20 million tournaments and the other four tournaments have had an average purse of $8.6 million.

That translates into 12 players already at $2 million or more before the PGA Tour even gets to the Florida swing, and seven of them haven’t won yet. Through seven tournaments, 30 players already have cleared the $1 million mark.

Twenty-five years ago, only nine players surpassed $2 million for the entire season.


Past champions Anna Davis and Tsubasa Kajitani are the among the top 43 amateurs in the world who are confirmed for the 72-player field at the Augusta National Women's Amateur this year. The field represents 18 countries and all six continents on which golf is played. ... Ford has become a title sponsor of the Arizona tournament on the LPGA Tour. The Ford Championship is March 28-31 at Seville Golf and Country Club southeast of Phoenix. Ford previously was the title sponsor of the PGA Tour event at Doral in 2006. ... With one tournament left before the Florida swing, the Masters has added three winners to the field through seven tournaments, and only one player in the top 50 of the world ranking (Byeong Hun An at No. 43) is not already eligible. The field currently is at 80 players.


Seven of the last 11 winners at Riviera are Masters champions.


“You watch sports for an escape from other nonsense, but I think golf has brought a lot of nonsense onto its plate. And now you don't get just golf, you get a lot of other stuff going on. It's a bit of a circus.” — Mackenzie Hughes.


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