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Major winner excited to ‘create a spectacle’ with LIV’s Las Vegas stop

Updated January 30, 2024 - 5:05 pm

Bryson DeChambeau is the ultimate hype man for LIV Golf.

The 2020 U.S. Open winner is giddy at the thought of playing in Las Vegas during Super Bowl week and bringing LIV to a new audience in its third season.

“I think it’s us trying to create a spectacle for the United States,” DeChambeau said of the tournament set for Feb. 8-10 at Las Vegas Country Club. “I think that we haven’t been highlighted enough here in the States, and I can’t wait to see what the response is going to be like with football fans and Vegas fans alike.”

DeChambeau knows Las Vegas well. He was a regular at the Shriners Children’s Open, winning it in 2018. It’s one of his eight career PGA Tour victories, which in addition to his major win includes Arnold Palmer’s event at Bay Hill and Jack Nicklaus’ tournament, the Memorial.

DeChambeau’s upbeat demeanor disappears when asked what it’s like to know he can’t play in those same tournaments anymore. His smiles fades, and he pauses for a few seconds to ponder the question.

“I think one day we’ll be able to play again those events,” DeChambeau said, after taking a moment to find the right words. “I would love to compete last year, this year, next year in those events. It’s not my decision, though. It’s somebody else’s decision.”

DeChambeau and the 50-odd others who have left for LIV Golf are banned from playing in PGA Tour events. It’s the price they’ve paid — and been paid handsomely in many cases — for joining the competition.

“Hopefully we come to this framework agreement quicker than later,” DeChambeau said of a potential deal to merge the two tours, along with the European-based DP World Tour. “And we get that opportunity to play again, because I love those events and, shoot, if I could have I’d have been playing in them the past couple years.”

Such is the state of modern professional golf. Players like DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson and others left for signing bonuses reportedly in the nine figures. They’ve also been banned from the PGA Tour, lost endorsements, earned no world ranking points for their events and been relegated to an afterthought by most of the public.

PGA Tour officials stunned the golf world, and their own players, by announcing last summer a plan to join forces in some manner and figure out how to get all of the golfers back playing against each other. Both sides set a deadline for the end of 2023 to reach an agreement. That time passed without a deal, but talks continue.

“I think the deal is going to come quicker than you think,” DeChambeau said. “It may not be in the next couple of weeks, maybe a month or so. But it’s going to happen. There’s no way around it now.”

Others aren’t so sure.

LIV Golf fired a salvo as negotiations continued into the end of 2023 by poaching its biggest get to date with the signing of Jon Rahm, the defending Masters champion and one of the three best players in the world.

LIV added another player on the eve of its season in Adrian Meronk, the 2023 DP World Tour player of the year, then on Tuesday snatched Tyrrell Hatton, ranked 16th in the world.

The general consensus of those following the negotiations is that if a deal were near, LIV would not be actively pursuing players like Rahm, Hatton and Meronk.

DeChambeau, however, thinks it is on the horizon.

“This is about the good of the game for the fans, the health of the game for the fans,” DeChambeau said. “And I think that as time goes on, we’re starting to see that these fans are hungry for us to come back together. And I can’t wait for that day to happen.”

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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