Written by
Bryan Mullen, LIV Golf Correspondent
Jun 03 2024
- 4 MIN
Smash Houston preview Koepka STORY image

Team: Smash Golf Club
Previous event team finish: 4th
Season-long team standings: 6th
Top finisher from previous event: Brooks Koepka, 1st
Fun stat: Accuracy matters and Smash GC proves it. The team leads the League in Fairways Hit (61.1%) and is third in Greens in Regulation (72.4%).


No offense to the excellent Ryan Pohle of RotoWire in our Team Power Rankings this week but having Smash Golf Club at No. 5 seems low considering this season’s results and this week’s venue.

Five-time major winner Brooks Koepka, captain of Smash GC, is making his first LIV Golf start since winning the previous event in Singapore, where he became the first player to win four LIV Golf individual titles. Koepka is also coming off a T26 at the PGA Championship, where he was the defending champion and sharpened his knives as the second half of the LIV Golf season gets underway in Houston.

Koepka continues to be the unquestioned leader of his team, on and off the course. He is fifth in the season-long individual standings and has three top-10 finishes, including a victory. But it’s clear he wants more from his teammates.

Despite him winning in Singapore, the team finished fourth. Jason Kokrak (40th in Singapore) and Graeme McDowell (37th) were unable to get much going and it held the team back. The good news is that they were more in line with outlier performances than normal ones. Kokrak, more times than not, has contributed positively to his team in 2024 and was at his best early in the schedule when he posted two top-6 finishes.

McDowell also was at his best early in 2024 when he had two top-8 finishes in his first four events. If Kokrak and McDowell find their early season form once again, Smash GC will make a sizable jump in the standings.

This is all assuming Talor Gooch continues his stellar play. Gooch, the reigning season-long Individual Champion, has been a reliable force in 2024 and is eighth in the standings. He has four top-10 finishes in seven events this season, including a T2 in Las Vegas. In his last LIV event, he finished solo fourth in Singapore. Gooch was also solid at the PGA Championship at Valhalla where he made the cut, didn’t have an over-par round and finished T60.

This week’s venue appears to line up with the team’s strengths. The course was designed by famed architect Rees Jones and major champion David Toms to host elite professional golf tournaments. Golf Digest ranks the course as one of the top 50 in Texas and one of the best public courses in the state.

It’s a course that, at first glance, appears to favor the long hitters since it plays 7,400+ yards, but the nuances on and around the greens – including the bunkers – will challenge players’ short games. One hole to watch this week will be the 315-yard par-4 12th, which should be drivable each day.

Smash GC members have seen plenty of success in the Houston area throughout their careers. Gooch finished T4 in 2019 at the Houston Open on this venue, and Kokrak won the Houston Open in 2021 although it was held at Memorial Park.

The positive vibes of the Houston area, course knowledge and recent results should combine for another strong week for Smash GC.