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Next PGA Tour Golfer To Join LIV Odds: Sam Bennett A Potential Target?

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

Dan Kilbridge  | 17 mins

Next PGA Tour Golfer To Join LIV Odds: Sam Bennett A Potential Target?

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Through all the controversy, legal battles and public scrutiny, the LIV Golf series is fighting an every day battle for respect and legitimacy with its first, full 14-week season underway in 2023. 

The biggest logistical roadblock remains a lack of Official World Golf Ranking points. The 54-hole, no-cut events are not in compliance with current criteria and players without existing major championship exemptions will continue to slide in the rankings and potentially into obscurity if LIV does not get the OWGR approval it so desperately craves. 

The next biggest roadblock is talent acquisition. Rather than poach, it now seems like LIV’s best approach to would be to target top college players and amateurs to create their own budding stars. They already signed the 2021 U.S. Amateur champ, James Piot, and likely have their eyes on 2022 champ Sam Bennett.

The Texas A&M star had a dream week at the Masters, playing in the final group Saturday alongside Rahm and Koepka. Bennett earned low amateur honors at -2 for a T-16 finish, and going forward we expect LIV to target those types of players more so than the existing top 25 on Tour – it’s theoretically cheaper, and locks players in while they’re still in their early 20s as opposed to early 40s.

Bennett isn’t hurting for money having capitalized on a number of NIL deals, and it’s hard to know what truly motivates any young player – but with no experience on Tour and no guaranteed paydays, we could see players like Bennett make the jump right to LIV rather than grind away on the Korn Ferry Tour. LIV’s odds to land a player like Bennett seem much higher than previously established stars.

What’s clear is that LIV needs something to light a spark, anything to gain momentum as a real league.

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Entering Masters week, pundits contemplated the possibility of a LIV player winning the green jacket and what it would mean for the upstart league and the sport in general. 

While those questions will remain unanswered, LIV players did perform exceptionally well at Augusta National overall – Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka finished T-2 behind Jon Rahm, while 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed finished T-4. 

Those three players, along with Dustin Johnson and 2022 British Open champ Cam Smith make up the bulk of LIV’s star player pool. Other past-their-prime players like Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter and Charl Schwartzel have been on board for a while, and they do have some young talent like Harold Varner III, Talor Gooch, Abraham Ancer and Joaquin Niemann. 

But LIV Golf set out with a blank check for player acquisition, backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund worth a reported $620 billion. It made some splashy signings but never landed *the* guy – a true headliner like Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth or Jon Rahm. 

Meanwhile, while several top 25 players were reportedly on the fence, McIlroy and Tiger Woods helped push for the PGA Tour’s new designated events with increased purse sizes and more guaranteed money for top players. Coupled with a forthcoming indoor golf simulator league - also backed by Woods and McIlroy – featuring big prize money, it seems there’s been enough overhaul to keep the A-listers happy on Tour. 

With no OWGR points awarded for LIV events, they now have just two players in the current top 25 – Smith at No. 5 and Niemann at No. 24. 

While LIV seems to have slowed down on the spending, the long-term outlook isn’t good with this current roster. There’s simply not enough there to draw new viewers, and TV ratings have been abysmal in its first year broadcasting on the CW Network. 

That means LIV will likely try again at some point to take a crack at the top dogs. It’s possible they continue to strike out. But looking at the current top 25, we’ve examined public comments and assessed the likelihood of the remaining 23 players becoming next to make the jump. 

Who Will Leave PGA Tour Next For LIV Golf?

PlayerOdds to join LIV nextImplied Probability
Hideki Matsuyama+35022.22%
Will Zalatoris+40020%
Patrick Cantlay+45018.18%
Cameron Young+45018.18%
Tyrrell Hatton+45018.18%
Xander Schauffele+80011.11%
Collin Morikawa+80011.11%
Sungjae Im+80011.11%
Viktor Hovland+80011.11%
Sam Burns+80011.11%
Tony Finau+80011.11%
Matt Fitzpatrick+10009.09%
Tom Kim+10009.09%
Kurt Kitayama+10009.09%
Max Homa+15006.25%
Keegan Bradley+15006.25%
Tommy Fleetwood+15006.25%
Shane Lowry+18005.26%
Jon Rahm+50001.96%
Scottie Scheffler+50001.96%
Justin Thomas+50001.96%
Jordan Spieth+50001.96%
Rory McIlroy+100000.99%

Odds are created by our Bookies.com team and do not reflect odds that may be available on legal betting sites and betting apps.

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Hideki Matsuyama, +350

World Ranking: 21

No player has seen more recent speculation in both directions than Matsuyama. He was reportedly a done deal to eventually head to LIV thanks to a massive signing bonus, but those rumors never materialized. We still have him as the most likely top-25 player who could make the jump. But we have lengthened his odds as it seems like Matsuyama could certainly decide to stick around.

The 2021 Masters champion deals with more on-site media than anyone other than Tiger Woods due to the massive interest in Japan. It visibly wears on him throughout the week and the potential for fewer media obligations and fewer tournaments could be very tempting for Matsuyama. But after looking over several recently-disclosed LIV contracts, that doesn't seem to be the case, with a lot of media requirements and contractually-obligated glad-handing in store for the defectors. 

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Will Zalatoris, +400

World Ranking: 8

Zalatoris wasn't very high on our list last year, but recent developments could make LIV a more appealing option for the young star. Prior to withdrawing from the Masters with a back injury, he had a ridiculous six top-10 major finishes and three runner-ups in his last seven attempts. But now that it seems LIV golf players will be allowed to play in the majors, it's more intriguing. 

Zalatoris is also missing the rest of the 2023 Tour season due to a back injury. He's struggled with back issues for a while now and LIV has been a popular landing space for beat-up players who aren't sure their body will allow them to compete at the highest level for another 20 years.

This is all speculation, however, and Zalatoris did stay loyal to the Tour in the first go-round of player acquisition.

“Look, if you want to do it, no one’s stopping you,” Zalatoris said. “But what we have here is pretty good too, considering every week we’re playing for a pretty great purse on a pretty great golf course and considering the benefits that we have off the course on top of that, it’s pretty tough to beat.”   

Patrick Cantlay, +450

World Ranking: 4

Cantlay is one of the most emotionally-guarded players on Tour. We hadn’t heard much from him on LIV until he was asked last year if he’d received an offer. His answer didn’t exactly kill any speculation and the video caught fire on Twitter because he danced around the question in such comical fashion. 

“My team handles all that kind of stuff, whether it be just any of the sponsors that I have or anything in that department. I haven’t had any direct contact with them recently. So I really, you know, I don’t have anything like that outstanding,” Cantlay said. 

However, Cantlay was at the meeting in which all players reportedly left on the same page regarding the Tour's future. That seems highly significant given recent developments.      

Cameron Young, +450

World Ranking: 13

It seems many were fooled by one erroneous report that had Young as a done deal to sign with LIV. Young's camp was quick to squash that speculation and it sounds like he's absolutely in sync with the rest of the top players and doesn't intend to go anywhere.  Still, he's an emerging superstar the likes of which LIV would love to sign - and probably at top dollar.

Tyrrell Hatton, +450

World Ranking: 18

Hatton’s name was tossed around a lot in the spring of 2022 when all the LIV player rumors were gaining steam. He said at the time he wasn’t that interested and intended to remain loyal to the Tour. He benefited greatly from the new designated events, finishing T-2 at the Players and T-4 at the Arnold Palmer to earn more than $4 million from October-April – doubling his 2022 earnings. 

While that should theoretically keep him happy on Tour, the fact that he’s playing well and back in the top 20 of the world has to be appealing for LIV, which has already signed many notable English players. 

Xander Schauffele, +800

World Ranking: 6

While Xander’s name was floated out there several times as well, it’s tough to know where the smoke was coming from. Some of the “rumors” were almost certainly leaked intentionally by LIV to create the appearance of a gold rush, but many of those rumors have seemingly fallen flat. Schauffele was pretty clear recently when he laid out his priorities and he also attended the players meeting. But his name continues to get thrown around.

Next PGA Tour Golfer To Join LIV Odds: Sam Bennett A Potential Target? 2

“The numbers being thrown around are very obnoxious,” Schauffele said. “There are certain numbers that even fans of mine, if they looked at it and they’d tell me I’m an idiot for not going, but right now, I’m 28-years-old, I want to win major championships, I want to win PGA Tour events, and I really think we can make this product on the PGA Tour, it’s been the best and now there is competition, and we can keep it the best with the talent we have, we just kind of need to unify and keep it together.”   

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Collin Morikawa, +800

World Ranking: 11

Morikawa was rumored to be among the signings last fall, which would have been a serious shake-up. He took pleasure in shooting down those rumors on Twitter, stating: “Last week at my press conference, I said the media loves creating drama. Sure enough, I woke up this morning to everyone thinking I’m next. Not to say I told you so but…I told you so. To state for the record, once again, you all are absolutely wrong. I’ve said it since February at Riviera that I’m here to stay on the @PGATOUR and nothing has changed.”

Next PGA Tour Golfer To Join LIV Odds: Sam Bennett A Potential Target? 1

Sungjae Im, +800

World Ranking: 17

Im certainly isn't hurting for money coming off a T-2 finish at the Tour Championship and a $5.75 million payout to finish the 2022 season. LIV has been hitting the international angle and would love to form a Korean team if given the chance, but we don't know if top choices like Im, Tom Kim and Si Woo Kim are or have ever been in serious talks.

Im is a daily fantasy sports legend for his remarkable consistency in his early years on Tour. He’s still only 25-years-old and the Tour lifestyle doesn’t seem to bother him at all. In fact, the dude played an insane 35 tournaments in his first full season, during which he didn’t own a residence and lived out of a suitcase from hotel-to-hotel. So the allure of fewer golf tournaments doesn’t seem like a strong selling point. He also issued a statement regarding his position last fall.

"Rest assured that I am fully committed to the PGA Tour,” Im said. “It has been my lifelong dream to compete on the PGA Tour and I am blessed to have this platform to be able to play with and against the best players in the world. For the record, I would also like to state publicly that I have no affiliation with, and have no intention of discussing an affiliation with, the LIV Tour.”

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Viktor Hovland, +800

World Ranking: 9

Hovland is another young, rising star, with LIV desperate to acquire more players in that mold. He told Norwegian media he has “no plans” to leave the Tour, and said last year that, “If I had my wish, I would just keep playing the PGA Tour.” Those comments weren’t nearly as strong as some we’ve heard from other top players, and Hovland’s name has been out there as a potential candidate.

Next PGA Tour Golfer To Join LIV Odds: Sam Bennett A Potential Target? 5

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Sam Burns, +800

World Ranking: 10

Burns is one of the hottest players in the world, with three wins last season and five total since joining the Tour in 2019 - including the 2023 Match Play. We haven’t seen many public comments from Burns, but the source of concern for many is Burns’ management group – GSE Worldwide. The agency has been funneling its clients to LIV, including Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen. But there aren’t any signs of Burns joining them yet.

Tony Finau, +800

World Ranking: 14

Finau’s comments from last June almost sounded like he was still on the fence, but he's since picked off three more wins on Tour and seems very content in his current place.

"I don't have a stance on it yet. I think we're just like everyone, don't really know what's going on with that. But I'm grateful to be on the PGA Tour, it's been an honor for me to have an opportunity to play and display my talent in front of the world on a tour like the PGA Tour, so much history there.”     

Matt Fitzpatrick, +1000

World Ranking: 16

Fitzpatrick was another rumored name last year, and it turns out LIV also offered his brother, Alex Fitzpatrick, ahead of his pro debut at the Irish Open. Alex and Matt both said, ‘no thanks’ with Matt coming off his first major victory at the U.S. Open. Both seemed to have taken a lot of time with the decision, indicating there won’t be a change of course in the near future.

Tom Kim, +1000

World Ranking: 19

Previously known as Joohyung Kim, 20-year-old Tom Kim has been an absolute menace after bursting on the scene in 2022, with three top-10 finishes and a win at the Wyndham Championship. He's exactly the type of young, rising player LIV would look to build an international team around. The reason they've struggled to get guys like that is the risk involved for young guys with no status to guarantee spots in upcoming majors, with LIV currently ineligible for OWGR points. So far we haven't seen any serious smoke with Kim and LIV, but you know he'll continue to be a top target having recently played his way into the world top 20.

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Kurt Kitayama, +1000

World Ranking: 20

Kitayama is now inside the top 25 after earning his first career Tour win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It was a dream week for the 30-year-old journeyman, who was ranked No. 55 to start the season. That week at Bay Hill proved that the designated events give the grinders like Kitayama a chance to make a serious splash and earn a huge payday by getting hot at the right time. 

While his LIV stock might never be higher, Kitayama has always embraced the journey and seems to finally be reaching his potential on Tour.

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Max Homa, +1500

World Ranking: 7

Homa would be an amazing get for LIV, worth a big price tag for the social media boost alone. But Homa has pledged his allegiance to the Tour at every turn and given no indication he plans on looking elsewhere. Now firmly inside the top 10 and on the verge of becoming a bona-fide superstar, it's hard to blame him.

Keegan Bradley, +1500

World Ranking: 22

Bradley is still one of the most recognizable faces on Tour, and he's been playing some vintage golf again with a victory early in the season at the ZOZO Championship. He also had a different reaction to LIV than his peers, saying he likes the format and is bummed friends like Brendan Steele and Cameron Tringale won't be around on Tour anymore. 

But signing Bradley wouldn't be a big enough splash for LIV to justify a huge contract, and Bradley still sounds like he's driven by the big events that would be off the table if he made the leap.

"I’m happy for the guys that went and got a ton of money - I mean, that’s what we’re doing out here," Bradley said. "For me, like, I want to win the Players. I want to win Bay Hill, Memorial."

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Tommy Fleetwood, +1500

World Ranking: 25

Fleetwood is one of those anomalies who still doesn’t have a Tour victory, despite being a world-class player for years. He has seven international victories and his career would certainly feel incomplete if he jumped to LIV like many of his English counterparts. He was rumored to be among them last year, but so far there’s absolutely no indication it will ever become a reality. 

Shane Lowry, +1800

World Ranking: 23

Lowry gave a long explanation as to why he’s sticking with the Tour, and the 2019 British Open champ and regular golf betting favorite seems intent on getting the message out there and helping keep his fellow top players right where they are. This Irishman definitely seems like he's staying put.

Next PGA Tour Golfer To Join LIV Odds: Sam Bennett A Potential Target? 3

Jon Rahm, +5000

World Ranking: 1

Rahm is another player who didn’t leave any room for speculation, explaining at length why the Tour is the place for him and how he chases trophies and legacy rather than money. We have no reason to doubt that’s all true, especially after he picked off career major No. 2 at the 2023 Masters. Life is good for the World No. 1 right where he is.

Scottie Scheffler, +5000

World Ranking: 2

Scheffler already has six Tour wins over the last two years, including the 2022 Masters. He’s made more than $25 million throughout that stretch with plenty of big-money tournaments left to play this season. Scheffler seems very content with his current situation, he’s denied any interest, and we don’t see that changing in the future.

Justin Thomas, +5000

World Ranking: 12

Thomas’ stature on Tour is even more essential now as one of the best young players and representatives in the world. He is frequently among the golf odds favorites for PGA Tour events. His comments have been almost dismissive of LIV’s efforts and he doesn’t hide his thoughts on players who have said one thing and done another by jumping ship.

Next PGA Tour Golfer To Join LIV Odds: Sam Bennett A Potential Target? 4

"It's like, 'Look, if you want to go, go,’" Thomas said. “There's been plenty of guys that have been advocates of it and have just talked it up all the time, and there have been guys behind the scenes that are saying, 'I'm going, I'm doing this.' And like my whole thing is, like, just go then. … Like, stop going back and forth or like you say you're going to do this. Everybody's entitled to do what they want, you know what I mean? Like if I wanted to go play that tour I could go play that tour. But I'm loyal to the PGA Tour and I've said that."

Jordan Spieth, +5000

World Ranking: 15

Spieth remains one of the most compelling figures in the game, he’s a golden boy on Tour and his loyalty is beyond question. 

Rory McIlroy, +10000

World Ranking: 3

McIlroy is coming off his record-setting third Tour Championship win and isn't going anywhere. He has been the most vocal player coming out against LIV at every turn, with deeply thought-out reasoning and explanations and a great grasp on what LIV is actually trying to do – growing the game ain’t it. There’s no way he’s going back on his word after everything he’s said in recent years.

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About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.
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