Short, Tight Grange Set For LIV Golf’s First Trip Down Under

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau reckon they’ll have to tone down their big-hitting ways when LIV Golf makes its first appearance in Australia at the relatively short Grange Golf Club course beginning Friday in Adelaide.

Both Johnson and DeChambeau said precision will be more important than distance on the par-72 course which measures 6,946 yards (6,351 meters). The Grange is one of several top courses — Royal Adelaide and Kooyonga included — in the South Australian state capital.

“Shorter (hitting) players do have an advantage,” DeChambeau told Australian Associated Press. “I have to lay back a lot of the times, I can’t just blow it out there . . . it kind of puts me more in a box, which is fine. I’ve just got to have good wedging and putt it really well.”

On the LIV Tour, Johnson’s average driving distance is 321.4 yards and DeChambeau’s is just 0.2 yards behind that.

“A course like this . . . you have just got to hit it in the fairway,” Johnson said. “For one, it’s Bermuda rough and it’s spotty but a lot of places it’s pretty deep . . . it’s tough to play out of. If you’re driving it well, the course plays pretty short, you can definitely shoot some good scores. But if not, you’re going to struggle.”

For 18 of the LIV players, Adelaide is the first tournament since the Masters two weeks ago.

Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson finished tied for second at Augusta, four strokes behind winner and PGA Tour star Jon Rahm, with Patrick Reed tied for fourth. British Open winner Cameron Smith and Johnson were well back while DeChambeau and former Masters champions Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson were among those who missed the cut.

Koepka, Smith and Ian Poulter are in a featured group off the first hole on Friday at the Grange. Johnson and Watson will be among the group a hole behind in the shotgun-start format. DeChambeau, Garcia and Mickelson are in another featured group off the fourth.

Similar to the 16th hole at Phoenix on the PGA Tour, the Grange’s par-3 12th hole is expected to feature about 5,000 fans in amphitheater grandstands. Players will arrive at the 12th tee accompanied by their chosen song.

DeChambeau said the hole “looks pretty sweet.”

“I love amphitheaters,” he told AAP. “It can be difficult sometimes but you’ve got to focus in and focus on hitting a good shot, that’s all that matters. And it’s fun when the crowd is booing you or cheering you on.”

Smith, captain of an all-Australian team called Ripper GC which also includes Matt Jones, Marc Leishman and Jed Morgan, spent time at an Adelaide shopping mall signing autographs during a promotional appearance earlier this week.

Smith’s signature mullet-style haircut was a big hit with some of the fans.

“There’s usually a few mullets following me around, there’s some pretty horrendous ones . . . but it always brings a smile to people’s faces,” Smith said.