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LIV Golf Mayakoba preview: Season starts down Mexico way

The new LIV Golf season begins in Mexico on Friday with LIV Golf Mayakoba, where Thomas Pieters will be among the fresh signings being paraded at El Camaleon Golf Club.

LIV Golf comes out of hibernation, with the likes of Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith getting back into action and that dynamic duo are being joined by some fresh faces.

Johnson banked most LIV money last season, with the icing on the cake being a victory for his team 4 Aces in the Team Golf Championship finale at the end of October.

WhatLIV Golf Mayakoba
WhereEl Camaleon Golf Club, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
WhenFrom 18:15, Friday 24th February
OddsDustin Johnson 8/1, Joaquin Niemann 8/1, Cameron Smith 10/1

Thomas Pieters is the most high-profile new signing for LIV - the former Ryder Cup star will be making his LIV debut in Mexico. Pieters is a six-time DP World Tour champion and is ranked 35th in the world.

Dean Burmester is another LIV recruit teeing up for the first time this week. He was playing this year as a PGA Tour rookie, but the South African has opted to make the leap to LIV. He is one of the longest drivers on the circuit.

Brendan Steele and Danny Lee are the other new LIV signings. Steele is a three-time PGA Tour champion, while Lee has won once on that circuit.

The 32-year-old New Zealander was once one of the most promising players in the world, but he has failed to fulfil his potential.

Hudson Swafford has been ruled out of the LIV season with injury problems and it remains to be seen whether the Floridian gets his place back next term.

Standard each-way terms of a quarter the odds, the first five places are available for LIV Golf Mayakoba, while there are also alternative options, including a fifth the odds the first eight places, in the Each Way Extra section.

LIV Golf Mayakoba course details

El Camaleon Golf Club, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, is a 7,062-yard, par-71, with three par-fives, 11 par-fours and four par-threes.

The Greg Norman-designed layout has been a PGA Tour venue since 2007, hosting the World Wide Technology Championship.

It is a quirky, fiddly track where sound course management is required - accurate drivers typically succeed at El Camaleon.

The 72-hole course-record holders are Viktor Hovland and Russell Henley, who have both reached 23-under par in the World Wide Technology Championship, while 61 is the best 18-hole score.

Graeme McDowell and Pat Perez are the only course winners in this week's 48-man LIV line-up. There is a $20m pot up for grabs, with $4m going to the champion and sunny and warm weather is forecast, with light to moderate breezes.

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Three to follow

Joaquin Niemann

The 8/1 about Joaquin Niemann could prove popular given how well suited he is to this week's assignment.

Niemann finished fifth at El Camaleon the last time he played it - in a full-field PGA Tour event in 2021 - and the Chilean can hit the ground running this week.

While Niemann knows the course well, Johnson has never teed up there on the PGA Tour and Smith has flopped on both his previous visits.

Niemann fans could argue their man should be clear favourite this week. He won titles in Mexico as an amateur and has started 2023 in solid fashion.

Tenth place in the Saudi International was followed by fifth spot in an Asian Tour event in Oman. Johnson was not even fit enough to take part in the Saudi International, suffering with back problems, while Smith missed the cut.

Abraham Ancer

Home hero Abraham Ancer should also be popular at 11/1. Ancer made hardly any mistakes when winning the Saudi International earlier this month and he tees up this week at a track he knows extremely well.

Ancer boasts El Camaleon form figures of 9-21-8-12-7 and the course sets up perfectly for him. Niemann and Ancer are both chasing their first LIV win and they can battle for the title on Sunday.

Sergio Garcia

The 16/1 for Sergio Garcia may attract some punters, given how well suited he is to El Camaleon.

The Spaniard has always been a superb driver and the tight terrain of El Camaleon should bring out the best in the former Masters champion.

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