Team environment at Doral appeals to LIV golf stars such as DeChambeau

The 13 foursomes in this year’s LIV Golf League feature wacky team names like the Iron Heads, RangeGoats, Majesticks and Fireballs.

Then, there are the Crushers, whose logo is a cracked golf ball resembling a face — with menacing eyes and a matching smile — atop two golden tees positioned as crossbones.

The description below the logo on reads, “As the name suggests, they’re all about boldness and confidence. They’re here to win, and they’re here to show the best of the world how it should be done.”

Team captain Bryson DeChambeau and his “mates” Paul Casey, Charles Howell III, and Anirban Lahiri have done an admirable job of validating that reputation.

The quartet captured the 2023 LIV Golf team championship at Trump Doral National in October and started Friday’s first round of the 2024 LIV Golf Miami on the Blue Monster course — the Saudi-backed circuit’s first regular-season event here after hosting the team championship at Doral the past two years — atop the team standings after four tournaments this year.

The Crushers’ 100 points coming in after consecutive team titles at Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and Hong Kong are 42 points more than the second-place Torque and assures they will remain first regardless of the results here.

In Friday’s shotgun start, DeChambeau was paired with Abraham Ancer and Brooks Koepka; Casey with Joaquin Niemann and Henrik Stenson; Howell III with Carlos Ortiz and Graeme McDowell; and Lahiri with Thomas Pieters and Richard Bland.

While DeChambeau, Casey, Howell III, and Lahiri have yet to win an individual title over the first four tournaments, they’ve combined for nine top-10 individual finishes — one of only two foursomes to have each player finish top-10 at least once.

“Our team has obviously done pretty well this year and last year,” said DeChambeau, who placed fourth at Jeddah, tied for sixth at Hong Kong, and tied for ninth at Las Vegas, and not surprisingly, leads all players with an average driving distance of 320.6 yards. “From the team aspect, it’s awesome how we can come together, and when teammates are struggling, pick them up.

“That was a big thing last year,” he added. “I was struggling pretty badly and Paul, Charles, and [Anirban] were, like, ‘Dude, let’s figure this out. Let’s go.’ They even came to the driving range and helped me figure out my golf swing.”

LIV Golf’s team format — each tournament features 13 teams of four players and two wild cards (Anthony Kim and Hudson Swafford), with each team’s top three scores counting in Rounds 1 and 2 and all four scores counting in the final round — appeals to DeChambeau, who played at Southern Methodist University.

“It feels very much like college golf, and that’s what I like most about it, just being around a group of guys that you enjoy and can have a good time with on and off the golf course,” said DeChambeau, who as a junior at SMU became the fifth player to win the NCAA and U.S. amateur individual titles in the same year (2015).

“Man, there’s too many times that I’ve been out here already where I’m, like, ‘I can’t see this any other way.’ This is just the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced in professional golf.”

DeChambeau said LIV’s less busy schedule (three-day tournaments and 14 events per calendar year) compared to the PGA Tour has also afforded him more time to grow his YouTube presence.

Nicknamed “The Scientist” because of his major at SMU (physics) and analytical approach to golf, DeChambeau has shown a lighter side on his YouTube channel, which has more than 520,000 subscribers.

DeChambeau’s videos include topics such as a tour of his Dallas home, a day on the course with actor Chris Pratt, and teaming with Paige Spiranac to try to shoot a sub-50 round from the red tees.

“My whole reason in doing so is to grow the game from 100 million golfers to 150 in the next decade,” DeChambeau explained.

“It shows a bit of the creative side I have, too. I’m super analytical and love understanding numbers, but it’s also fun to create an entertaining product for kids to watch and hopefully get inspired to want to play golf. … In all honesty, it’s a great platform to help grow the game of golf.”

This weekend, DeChambeau’s focus is on conquering the Blue Monster and continuing the Crushers’ 2024 domination of LIV Golf. He birdied the first hole Friday despite an errant drive and birdied the eighth before a bogey to finish the front nine 1-under-par — tied with Lahiri and one stroke behind Casey.

“It’s a great test of golf,” DeChambeau said of Doral. “you have to be on your game pretty much every hole.”