4 things to watch at LIV Golf's Portland stop
With more big names added to the roster and almost all the top players on the PGA TOUR taking the week off, the eyes of the golfing world are on the second LIV event in Portland.
Greg Norman's rival outfit will look to make a big splash with its second of eight 54-hole tournaments this year. The event at Pumpkin Ridge also marks LIV Golf's first in the United States.
Here are four things to watch this week:
Big names have arrived
While the opening LIV Golf event in London had an elevated amount of hype, it severely lacked star power in the 48-man field. There were a number of solid veteran players on the roster, but Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson were counted on to carry the star power for the rival circuit.
While both Koepka and DeChambeau initially issued strong statements of support for the PGA TOUR, the rivals eventually changed their tune and crossed the aisle to join LIV. Both have battled injuries and downturns in form in recent months, but there's no doubt that the long-hitting pair are among the biggest names in golf.
Add the polarizing Reed into the mix, and LIV has acquired six major champions with these three names alone.
Who's in, who's out
The three additions above aren't the only new faces in Portland this week, as there are eight field changes from the London event.
The Mexican pair of Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz gives LIV an inroad into that market, with both having notched a PGA TOUR win in their careers. At No. 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Ancer is the third-highest ranked player on the LIV Golf tour, trailing just Johnson and Koepka.
There was a time when Matthew Wolff's move to LIV would have been front-page news, as the prodigious talent burst onto the scene with a victory at the 3M Open and a second-place finish in the U.S. Open early in his career. That saw the former Oklahoma State star soar to No. 12 in the OWGR, but the downturn in his play has been as swift as his rise. Wolff has plummeted to No. 77 in the world and has 11 rounds of 75 or worse on the PGA TOUR in 2022 against just four sub-70 scores. Norman and Co. will be hoping the 23-year-old can regain his early professional form to wow crowds with the insane power his unique swing is able to generate.
Another former Oklahoma State star who dominated the college scene will also make his LIV debut this week, as Eugenio Chacarra makes his first start as a professional. Nabbing the second-ranked amateur in the world is an impressive move for LIV Golf, and his power game could make him a fan favorite in Portland.
Among the names dropping out this week is 2019 U.S. Amateur winner Andy Ogletree. The 24-year-old had a disastrous first start in London, failing to break 75 and finishing dead last a whopping 31 strokes behind winner Charl Schwartzel.
The reception at Pumpkin Ridge
Centurion Club outside London was a welcoming host for the inaugural LIV event, but the reception in the Portland area will seemingly be much colder.
Consider the comments from 11 Washington County mayors in the area - all of whom signed a letter condemning Pumpkin Ridge's decision to host the event.
"It's despicable. It's horrible, absolutely horrible," Mayor Leri Lenahan of North Plains told Kyle Iboshi of KGW-8.
"It's a moral issue," Mayor Peter Truax of Forest Grove explained. "We have certain values that ought to be held regardless of economic gain."
"I'm worried about people getting hurt. I'm worried about people and their property getting damaged. I'm worried about the potential of extreme violence," Lenahan added.
Pumpkin Ridge is a private club owned by Escalante Golf, making it free to host the event despite local officials pushing back. However, they won't be able to keep the event free from protest - something that could very well happen over the three-day tournament.
What's going on with team competition
When the LIV Golf format was announced, one of the standout aspects was a draft by the 16 captains to form the four-player teams in the 48-man field. That remained true to a certain extent at the London event, but two teams were already predetermined, pouring some cold water on the concept.
That only worsened when one of those preset teams - the South African quartet of Schwartzel, Hennie du Plessis, Branden Grace, and Louis Oosthuizen - won the event by a whopping 14 shots.
It appears there'll be no draft for this week's tournament, and Sergio Garcia already announced on social media that his team, Fireballs GC, will be changing its name in the near future.
The team aspect is also very confusing for fans to follow, with only the top two scores counting over the opening two rounds and three of four counting for the final round.
There's certainly a place for team golf in the sport's landscape, but LIV has thus far failed to implement it to great effect. Perhaps the preset lineups will make things more compelling on that side of the competition.