Years after PGA Tour left Doral, LIV Golf Team Championship opens at Trump National

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Doral has hosted a PGA Tour event from 1962 to 2016. This weekend is the site of LIV Golf’s first team championship.

The eighth and final event of the Saudi-funded league’s controversial season kicked off Friday at Trump National Doral Miami. This is the first professional golf event on the course since the PGA Tour announced in 2016 that it was moving the World Golf Championship tournament out of Doral because a title sponsor could not be secured at the middle of Donald Trump’s presidential race.

“It feels good to be back here,” said Dustin Johnson, who won the penultimate Cadillac World Golf Championship held in Doral in 2015 and is now the captain of the seeded 4 Aces GC from LIV Golf. “I’ve had a lot of success here. I like this golf course. I definitely missed being here, playing events here. Of course, now I think we’ll be here for a few years at least. It’s a great golf course. It’s a good test of golf. It is a course that I have always enjoyed playing.

LIV’s takeover of Doral was also very different from a typical PGA Tour event. That’s because the format LIV uses for their Tag Team Championship is anything but traditional.

Each of the 32 golfers on the eight four-player teams playing Friday started their rounds simultaneously as part of a shotgun start. The top four seeds – 4 Aces GC, Crushers GC, Fireballs GC and Stinger GC – did not play on Friday as they earned a bye to automatically qualify for Saturday’s semifinals.

The four teams that won their matchups on Friday and will join the top four seeds on the golf course on Saturday are Smash GC, Majesticks GC, Cleeks GC and Punch GC. Saturday’s four matchups feature 4 Aces GC and Cleeks GC, Crushers GC and Stinger GC, Fireballs GC and Punch GC, and Smash GC and Majesticks GC, kicking off at 12:15 p.m.

Hundreds of spectators watched the biggest names in action on Friday, a list that included Brooks Koepka (on Smash GC), Cameron Smith (on Punch GC) and Phil Mickelson (on Hy Flyers GC). Koepka retired from his singles match against Harold Varner III, and Smith and Mickelson faced off in a competitive singles match that ended with Smith taking the victory with a birdie on their final hole of the day.

“It’s a golf course that I always loved coming to play on when the Cadillac was here,” said Louis Oosthuizen, who finished in the top 10 at the 2015 World Golf Championships – Cadillac Championship in Doral and is now the captain of LIV Golf’s Stinger. CG. “It’s a shame we haven’t been able to play it, or haven’t been able to play it for several years. It’s nice to come back here and play it. It’s an amazing golf course Once the wind picks up a bit, it really is the Blue Monster.

Cameron Smith tees off the second hole during the first round of the LIV Golf Team Championship on Friday, October 28, 2022 in Doral, Florida.

The Doral course is known as the “Blue Monster” because of the diverse challenges it presents through its combination of water obstacles and swirling winds.

“The course sets up very differently because of the requirement – the precision and how demanding it is,” Mickelson said. “It requires incredible ball strikes.”

It started in 1962 as the Doral Country Club Invitational, with the tournament changing names over the decades until it became the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship in 2011. But that run ended in 2016, when the PGA Tour moved the event to Mexico.

“They never wanted to go to Mexico,” Trump said Thursday after taking part in the LIV Golf Tournament pro-am held at his course. “The pros didn’t want to go to Mexico and they went and it didn’t work out. They wanted to be here and the tour wants to be here too. The tour really wants to be here.

This weekend’s LIV Golf Team Championship includes a $50 million purse. The winning team will receive $16 million ($4 million for each player), and teams that were eliminated after Friday’s first round still won $1 million ($250,000 for each player).

“I think the course is great, the players love it,” Trump said. “The Blue Monster is still tough, but he’s in the best shape he’s ever had.”

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