Written by
Joy Chakravarty
Sep 21 2023
Bryson at Chicago

SUGAR GROVE, Ill. ­– Crushers GC have had plenty of success this season, and they are desperately eager to climb one step higher on the podium this week after their back-to-back second-place finishes in their last two starts in Greenbrier and Bedminster.

Captain Bryson DeChambeau and his men are intent on riding on the momentum and getting a second team win at LIV Golf Chicago. With just two regular events remaining, that would solidify their place in the top-four going into the Team Championship in Miami.

Things are looking good for Crushers on the individual front as well. DeChambeau is probably the most talked-about name in the league since his astonishing 119-shot weekend in decimating Greenbrier, while Anirban Lahiri knuckled down over the weekend to finish second in Bedminster. Charles Howell III has been his usual rock-solid self, while Paul Casey is fully fit from the toe injury that has bothered him this season.

Lahiri, who finished tied 21st at 2-under at Rich Harvest last year but contributed to the team total on all three days, said: “The mood in the team is very buoyant. We played well the last few weeks and we managed to secure back-to-back podium finishes. Just generally, the spirits are high, and that is also because we are playing some good golf. Paul’s feeling great. Bryson’s obviously on a high. Chucky is always solid. And I’m feeling good about my game. So, I think the general morale is high.

“We know we have two events to go and we are in the hunt for a top-four going into Miami. So definitely, we’re all going to be looking to have a good week for the Crushers, and ideally get that second team win that has eluded us since Mexico at the start of the season.”

When LIV Golf visited Chicago last year, Crushers had the same line-up of players and finished 6th in the team standings. DeChambeau’s tied 8th place at 6-under was the best, earned through rounds of 69, 70 and 71. He hit only 18 fairways that week, but it was quintessential DeChambeau from there, muscling his way to 40 greens in regulation.

The routing at Rich Harvest Farms has been change this year to accommodate the Party Hole – on the par-3 17th – but Lahiri reckons the Jerry Rich-designed golf course is going to play a lot differently this year.

“I have been here now a couple of days and it’s been quite wet, cold and rainy. We all are a little bit surprised. The golf course has taken a lot of water and is going to be playing different from last year,” said Lahiri, who will be scrambling to reach Hangzhou after the tournament ends to represent India in the Asian Games.

“Rich Harvest is a challenging golf course. It got very firm and fast last year, and Cam (Smith) won it at 13-under. It will be interesting to see how it plays in these conditions this week.

“It is one of those courses where it’s very important to hit the fairway, especially with the wet rough if it continues to stay like how it is. These are small greens, very contoured, so putting is going to be very important. It has a very difficult finishing stretch if you’re finishing on the 18th, which was a par five last year and has been converted into a long par-4.”

Personally, Lahiri is aware a good week in Chicago will set him up well for the trip to Hangzhou.

“Obviously, the two tournaments are on two different golf courses and the conditions are going to be completely different, but you do feel better on any golf course after a good prior week. More important is how you are trending going into a certain tournament, and I am happy with the state of my golf right now,” said the 36-year-old.

“I couldn’t say the same about the way I was driving the ball in Spain and London, but I worked on it before Greenbrier, and the driver has been behaving well, right through the last two LIV events and then the two International Series events I played in the UK.”

Following LIV Golf Bedminster, Crushers are placed fourth in the overall team standings with 146 points. They need to overcome a gap of 10 points to catch up with Stingers (156) in third place and are three ahead of the fifth-placed RangeGoats (143).

In the individual standings, Greenbrier DeChambeau is best placed at 7th with 106 points. Mayakoba champion Howell III is 10th with 88 points, Lahiri is 15th with 75 and Casey is 34th with 19 points.

In LIV Golf Chicago last year, apart from DeChambeau’s tied 8th finish, Howell was tied 18th at 3-under par, and both Casey and Lahiri were tied 21st at 2-under.