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LIV Golf Orlando preview: Niemann stands out in Crooked Cat field

The third event of the LIV Golf season starts in Orlando on Friday, with several players using this tournament as a warm-up for next week's Masters.

Golf fans are licking their lips at the prospect of next week's Masters, which brings PGA Tour players and LIV Golf players together for the first time in almost nine months, and many punters will be watching this week's LIV Golf Orlando looking for Masters clues.

WhatLIV Golf Orlando
WhereCrooked Cat, Orange County National, Orlando, Florida
When18:15, Friday, March 30th, 2023
How to watch          LIV Golf Plus app
OddsCameron Smith 11/1, Dustin Johnson 11/1, Joaquin Niemann 14/1, Mito Pereira 16/1, Paul Casey 16/1, Charles Howell 18/1, Abraham Ancer 20/1, Sergio Garcia 20/1

As things stand, there are 18 players competing in LIV Golf Orlando who will also be teeing up in next week's Masters. It remains to be seen if any of the others get a last-gasp invitation from Augusta chiefs, who have the power to let anyone they like into their tournament. 

With the prospect of the PGA Tour and LIV Golf civil war threatening to overshadow the Masters, Augusta bigwigs may opt to invite another LIV player as a gesture of desire for peace. 

What is certain though – barring any late injury or illness – is that six former Masters champions will be playing at LIV Golf Orlando. 

Masters champions get to return to Augusta every year, so Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzel will all be making the journey from Orlando to Georgia for the first Major of the season. 

Will any of them be heading to the Masters off a victory? Johnson is the most likely according to the odds. 

The 2020 Masters champion is 11/1 to win LIV Golf Orlando. He finished 13th in LIV Golf Tucson last time out, which was a timely return to some sort of form, and the giant Carolinian knows he can handle this week's venue. 

Johnson earned his PGA Tour card by finishing 14th in the 2007 PGA Tour Qualifying School event at the course staging LIV Golf Orlando – Orange County National – so he has more competitive experience of the track than most of this week's 48-man field. 

Brendan Steele also teed up in that 2007 Q School, but he finished tied for 100th place and failed to get a PGA Tour card. 

Cameron Smith is competing with Johnson for market leadership this week. Smith, the Open champion, is the highest-ranked player in the LIV Golf Orlando line-up. 

The Australian was labouring with a wrist issue at LIV Golf Tucson, though, so it remains to be seen whether that problem has cleared up in time for this. 

Standard each-way terms of a quarter the odds, the first five are available for LIV Golf Orlando, with alternative options, including a fifth the odds, the first eight, on offer in the Each Way Extra section.

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LIV Golf Mayakoba preview: Season starts down Mexico way

LIV Golf Orlando course details

Crooked Cat, Orange County National, Orlando, Florida, is a 7,297-yard, par-71, with three par-fives, 11 par fours and four par threes. 

Elevation changes are a feature of Crooked Cat, with rolling fairways and large, contoured greens. Generous fairways and large greens will encourage the powerhouses to attack, especially with sunny and warm conditions expected. 

Light to moderate breezes are forecast, so scoring should be low. 

There is a $20m prize fund, with $4m going to the winner of the individual tournament. 

There is a team event running concurrently for which the 4 Aces and Fire Balls are market leaders. 4 Aces are 4/1, as are Fire Balls. 

The 4 Aces team comprises Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Peter Uihlein and Pat Perez. The Fire Balls are Sergio Garcia, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz and Eugenio Chacarra.

Three To Follow

Charles Howell

Nobody has performed better on the LIV circuit this year than Charles Howell, who won LIV Golf Mayakoba by four shots, then finished fifth in LIV Golf Tucson. 

He is 18/1 to win the LIV Golf Orlando and must be bursting with confidence. Howell has lived in Orlando for more than 20 years.

Joaquin Niemann

Another Florida-based powerhouse who will be excited by this opportunity is Joaquin Niemann, who is still seeking a LIV Golf breakthrough. 

The 14/1 about the Chilean taking the trophy at Crooked Cat will appeal to many.

Sam Horsfield

Orlando is home to Sam Horsfield and he has impressed at Crooked Cat in amateur events. 

The former Florida State Amateur champion will be delighted to be able to tee up on the LIV circuit at a venue he knows so well and 75/1 could look an enormous price by the end of the week.

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