LIV vs. PGA Tour Day 4: Something for each side

Phil Mickelson, 2023 Masters,Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Network
Phil Mickelson, 2023 Masters,Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Network /

The LIV Tour vs. PGA aspect of the 2023 Masters had a little something for both sides.

The PGA side won the big prize since one of its mega-stars, Jon Rahm, emerged with the Green Jacket. Rahm overtook Brooks Koepka, a LIV mega-star, with a closing 69, to win by four strokes.

But the LIV Tour guys put up enough of a fight to leave with their heads held high. Koepka was one of three LIV regulars finishing among the top six. He, Phil Mickelson (T-2, -8) and Patrick Reed (T4, -7) took a few shots at the notion that LIV Tour players don’t play a competitive enough format to be successful at major events.

For most of the tournament, Koepka was not only the LIV leader but the leader period. He shot 65 Thursday to share the lead with Rahm and Viktor Hovland, followed up with a 67 to seize the solo lead, and held it well into Sunday’s final round.

That, however, was where the pro-LIV argument ran into a hitch.

In Sunday’s final round, Koepka stumbled through the back nine of Sunday’s rain-delayed third round with a 38, then turned in a front-nine 39 during the final round that dropped him behind Rahm.

To the PGA Tour side of the argument, Koepka looked tired and worn, just like somebody who hadn’t played a serious four-round top-level competition in months might be expected to look.

Rahm, who ascended to world No. 1 again with the victory, looked every bit like the best player in the world. His only hiccups, resulting in a third-round 73, flowed quite literally from the storm that chopped up play Saturday.

For that reason they were forgivable. Beyond that, his third-round 73, although one over par, was actually a half-stroke below the field average for that choppy round.

Watch 2023 Masters winner Jon Rahm put on the Green Jacket. dark. Next

As a matter of pure statistics, the PGA Tour guys scored a victory, although not much of one. The average card turned in by a PGA Tour regular added up to 72.49 strokes. That was better, albeit by less than a half stroke, than the 72.91 average for the LIV Tour guys.

They also scored something close to a clean sweep of the upper middle class of the leaderboard. Beyond Koepka, Mickelson, and Reed, only Joaquin Niemann (T-16) represented LIV in the top 25.