fbpx
graeme mcdowell liv contract

‘I’m in trouble here’: Graeme McDowell recalls when LIV Golf future looked murky

“When I started doing the math of captains and contracted players and who was left, how many spots there were going to be, and I remember sitting there one week going, ‘Holy s***!’ I’m in a little bit of trouble here…”

 

There was a genuine chance Graeme McDowell could find himself homeless at the end of last year – in a golf sense, of course.

Having signed a two-year deal with the start-up LIV Golf League in 2022, McDowell’s underwhelming performances in the second year left him at a place in the season-long standings where he couldn’t automatically renew with Cleeks GC, leaving a future full of uncertainty.

The former US Open champion finished 42nd out of 50 players in LIV’s 2023 rankings with his contract at its end, so he became a free agent with no team. A return to the DP World Tour could’ve met sanction-shaped hoops to jump through, while he is no longer a member of the PGA Tour.

McDowell was offered a reprieve by Brooks Koepka, the captain of Smash GC, and he now shares a dressing room with the five-time major champion, Talor Gooch and Jason Kokrak.

“I think the transfer to Smash was huge for me on a lot of levels,” McDowell told NCG. “I think that it was obviously a very difficult last couple of months of the season last year when I realised that my future with the Cleeks wasn’t probably there.

“When I started doing the math of captains and contracted players and who was left, how many spots there were going to be, and I remember sitting there one week going, ‘Holy s***!’ I’m in a little bit of trouble here because I was out of contract and that was on me, it was one of those things.

“There just wasn’t a lot of spots to go around. Thankfully, the stars aligned and Brooks was looking for a player. He and I had a really good relationship going back 10 years and we had mutual respect for each other’s game, and he saw something in me that he wanted on Smash, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me because being part of a very, very competitive team, was one thing.

“His belief in me made me want to go that extra mile to prove to him that I can bring something to the team and a little bit of experience. It’s been great. When you’re going out there every day with a guy like Brooks Koepka leading the team, you know that you’re going to be competitive every week.

“Add Talor Gooch into that mix as well, because he’s a hell of a player. Jason Kokrak – very, very good player as well, so teams are competitive. Even that last Sunday in Singapore, I’m middle to the second half of the pack needing a huge day on Sunday to get myself up into the points, but not just that, the team had a chance to win. So, you’re right there with all the pressure for scores to count.”

graeme mcdowell liv contract

ALSO: What is left of the LIV Golf schedule in 2024?

Graeme McDowell LIV contract could still leave future up in the air

McDowell has seen a visible upturn in form in 2024. After making one top 10 in his first 20 LIV Golf appearances, he has made two top 10s in his last six and enjoyed team victory in Las Vegas in February. This was McDowell’s first victory to speak of since winning the Saudi International four years ago.

The 44-year-old admits his decision to move to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf League was one of business, at a time when he admits his card on the PGA Tour was gradually falling from his grasp. A new world that included an attractive sign-up fee, guaranteed earnings at each event and $4 million for each winner, all concocted by the commissioner Greg Norman, was too good to turn down at this stage of McDowell’s career.

Despite his new haven with the blue and white of Smash GC, McDowell could be back to square one if his performances dwindle to a point where he finishes outside of the top 24 in the end-of-season standings. He would hope for a contract renewal, which could come in the current mid-season transfer window, or an offer from one of the other 12 teams in this case, unless his form continues to show encouragement.

But the Northern Irishman isn’t alone in this boat. Several players will be jostling to place high in the LIV table as the schedule edges closer to its finale in September and while McDowell didn’t share the privilege of those whose contracts saw them through 2023 regardless of their play, he believes the jeopardy of free agency could lead to excitement and emotion across the board ahead of 2025.

“Last year, there were so many guys still under contract, so a number of guys had the ability to move around, or maybe not be in the league the following season, but as we move into the end of this year, I think we’ll see a lot more emotion, a lot more storylines and interesting things happening.

“And as we move into 2025, there’s going to be that little bit more fluctuation which is going to make for something different in the sport. I don’t think it made a lot of ripples last year, because, like I say, so many guys were still contracted.

“But I think this mid-season window, I’m curious to see what’s going to happen. I would really like for Smash to renew my contract. So, if Brooks sees this, sign me up coach! But you know we’ll see. I have no idea what’s going to happen in this mid-season window.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s going to be any trades. But who knows? Captains have the ability to extend contracts, my contract is running out at the end of 2024. I’m obviously hopeful that could happen. But you know, if it doesn’t obviously, I’ll be playing hard this summer and try and get my spot secure for next season.”

NOW READ: What is the LIV Golf format in 2024?

NOW READ: How much money has the Graeme McDowell LIV contract earned him?

What do you make of the Graeme McDowell LIV Golf situation? Will there be another Graeme McDowell LIV contract in 2025? Tell us on X!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

Latest Posts

liv golf houston

LIV Golf

LIV Golf Nashville: Everything you need to know

By

Read full article about LIV Golf Nashville: Everything you need to know
matthew tipper

LIV Golf

Exclusive: Top golf coach firmly believes this LIV Golf star will win a major

By

Read full article about Exclusive: Top golf coach firmly believes this LIV Golf star will win a major
LIV Golf

LIV Golf

How far have the LIV golfers fallen in the world rankings?

By

Read full article about How far have the LIV golfers fallen in the world rankings?
bryson dechambeau grayson murray

LIV Golf

Bryson DeChambeau: ‘Pressures of golf need to be taken seriously’ after Grayson Murray passing

By

Read full article about Bryson DeChambeau: ‘Pressures of golf need to be taken seriously’ after Grayson Murray passing
justin timberlake golf

LIV Golf

Justin Timberlake shows inner golfer to Sergio Garcia live on stage

By

Read full article about Justin Timberlake shows inner golfer to Sergio Garcia live on stage
liv golf houston

LIV Golf

LIV Golf Houston: Everything you need to know

By

Read full article about LIV Golf Houston: Everything you need to know
liv golf schedule 2024

LIV Golf

LIV Golf schedule 2024: Every date, venue and result

By

Read full article about LIV Golf schedule 2024: Every date, venue and result
Asian Tour 2024 schedule

LIV Golf

Asian Tour 2024 schedule and results

By

Read full article about Asian Tour 2024 schedule and results

LIV Golf

Phil Mickelson schedule: Where will the six-time major winner play next?

By

Read full article about Phil Mickelson schedule: Where will the six-time major winner play next?