India’s Anirban Lahiri fired a seven-under-par 65 in leading Bryson DeChambeau’s Crushers to the LIV Golf Team Championship on Sunday as the Saudi-backed series entered an off-season of uncertainty.
Lahiri had five birdies and an eagle at Doral in the four-player total stroke team final with teammates DeChambeau finishing on 67, fellow American Charles Howell on 72 and England’s Paul Casey on 73.
“I was really pumped up,” Lahiri said. “I wasn’t going to let the team down.”
Crushers finished on 277 to defeat two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson’s RangeGoats by two strokes with Torque, captained by Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, third on 282.
DeChambeau sank long birdie putts at the par-3 13th and 15th holes, then made another at the par-4 16 after his tee shot landed on an adjacent hole to keep the Crushers ahead.
“I can’t be happier with this team of mine,” DeChambeau said. “They worked their butts off.”
Upstart LIV Golf, which lured many top PGA Tour players with record money and fewer events, sparked golf’s civil war last year, with defectors being banned from PGA events.
A framework merger agreement between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) was announced in June but has yet to be finalized as a December 31 deadline looms.
Among those who must sign off on the deal is a PGA Tour Policy Board with a majority players membership that includes 15-time major winner Tiger Woods.
With reports that Endeavor Group has submitted an investment bid to the PGA Tour earlier this month and Fenway Sports is interested in a similar move, the PGA Tour might find new revenues without the PIF.
That leaves LIV Golf unsure of what the off-season will bring even with reports a 2024 LIV campaign would include several US events opposite notable PGA stops.
“I thought there was an agreement to have, to try to create, an agreement that gave the PIF first right of refusal on potential investors,” six-time major winner Phil Mickelson said. “I just don’t know how it all plays out.”
Mickelson predicted more PGA exits for LIV for 2024, saying some have called with interest in a move.
“I know that’s going to happen,” he said. “When players look at LIV, they’re wanting to be a part of it.”
But with no world golf ranking points awarded at LIV events, it’s tough for most LIV players to qualify for major tournaments.
Two-time major winner Dustin Johnson said he was happy with his decision to join LIV, adding, “It’s something different and I’ve really enjoyed it the last two seasons. Looking forward to everything to come in the future.”
Watson said LIV’s best is yet to come, citing interest in sponsoring and purchasing LIV teams.
“We’re at the young stages of this league. We’re at the young stages of these franchises,” Watson said. “The interest is there.”
“Anywhere from 10 to 20 people have asked to buy the RangeGoats. There was three in Singapore, and then after Singapore the floodgates opened. I met with people this week.”