LIV Golf star Carlos Ortiz has declined a contract extension on Sergio Garcia's Fireballs team ahead of the 2024 season.
In addition to the top 24 (Lock Zone) players who opted to become free agents, players who finished 25th to 44th (Open Zone) whose contracts have expired are officially free agents.
These players may be re-signed by their previous team or can negotiate a contract with another team that has an open roster spot.
But despite ranking 15th in the lock zone following a steady 2023 LIV Golf League, Mexico's Ortiz has decided to walk out of Garcia's team.
The move is somewhat surprising especially given Ortiz's close relationship with fellow Mexican Abraham Ancer, who remains in the side.
Garcia's team is also made up of rising Spanish star Eugenio Chacarra.
LIV Golf confirmed to GolfMagic:
Ortiz was winless for the Fireballs in individual competition in 2023 but he finished T2 when losing out in a four-man playoff at LIV Golf Tucson.
The Fireballs won the team event that week though, and they also won in Jeddah.
But they would finish the season in sixth position at the LIV Golf Team Championship in Miami.
Ortiz earned one victory on the PGA Tour (2020 Houston Open) prior to his move to LIV Golf in 2022.
It remains to be seen where Ortiz will end up, and who Garcia will get in as a replacement for the Fireballs.
A source close to LIV Golf has told GolfMagic that Garcia's fellow Spaniard David Puig is the early favourite to take the spot.
Some golf fans have been hinting Ortiz's exit could open the door for PGA Tour star Jon Rahm to join his childhood hero Garcia on the team.
That in itself has got some golf fans thinking Rahm is contemplating a big-money move to LIV Golf in 2024.
It is understood Rahm was last season offered $300m to join the Saudi-backed circuit.
But he turned them down.
Elsewhere ahead of the 2024 LIV Golf League season, it will be interesting to note what happens on Smash GC, especially after captain Brooks Koepka fell out with his team member Matt Wolff in the latter stages of the season.
Koepka said he had "given up" on Wolff during LIV Golf London.
The five-time major champion then went in on Wolff again in October.
Wolff is under contract at Smash GC for another season, so it remains to be seen whether Koepka and Wolff can make up during the off-season or whether there will be trade on the cards, which you have to believe is the most likely option given what has been said in 2023.
Bryson DeChambeau's Crushers GC, which won the 2023 LIV Golf Team Championship, willl remain unaltered heading into the new season.
Lahiri's contact had run out with the Crushers but he accepted a renewal for 2024.
LIV Golf team rosters prior to player free agency:
The 2022 LIV Golf Team Champions have one roster spot available with Pat Perez no longer under contract after finishing 28th in the points list, leaving Captain Dustin Johnson with the decision to either re-sign Perez or look for another player. Peter Uihlein, who joined the team from Smash GC last offseason, secured and accepted a contract extension with the 4Aces after his 12th place finish in this year's Individual Standings. Rounding out the formidable squad is Patrick Reed, who finished 6th.
Martin Kaymer’s Cleeks have two open roster spots after Bernd Wiesberger and Graeme McDowell finished 41st and 42nd respectively in the Individual Standing and are now free agents. Kaymer remains as captain, receiving exempt status despite finishing in the Drop Zone (45th or below). Richard Bland re-signed with the Cleeks after his late-season surge locked up a spot with a 20th place finish.
The reigning 2023 Team Champions, led by Captain Bryson DeChambeau, will return their entire roster. Anirban Lahiri, the team's only player with an expiring contract, accepted his extension offer after finishing 11th in the Individual Standings. Charles Howell III, the winner of LIV Golf Mayakoba, finished 10th while Paul Casey remains under contract after finishing 35th.
Sergio Garcia’s Fireballs have one open roster spot after Carlos Ortiz, who finished 15th in the Individual Standings, opted for free agency after declining a contract extension offer. Abraham Ancer and Eugenio Chacarra, each under contract for at least one more season, finished in 26th and 32nd respectively.
Phil Mickelson’s team has one open spot after James Piot was relegated after finishing 47th in the Drop Zone. Both Cameron Tringale (16th) and Brendan Steele (19th) are under contract and will return. Mickelson will look to add a player through free agency or the draft.
IRON HEADS GC
Captain Kevin Na will add at least one new player due to Sihwan Kim’s relegation. Scott Vincent played his way into the Lock Zone in the regular-season finale in Jeddah and accepted his extension offer. Danny Lee, winner of LIV Golf Tucson, is under contract for next season.
Co-captains Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood return, as does Sam Horsfield, who rejoined the lineup late in the season following an injury and remains under contract.
Captain Bubba Watson’s decision to acquire Talor Gooch last offseason proved successful after Gooch hoisted the 2023 Individual Championship trophy. The addition of Gooch helped the RangeGoats finish runners-up at this year’s Team Championship in Miami. Watson’s lineup is set as both Harold Varner III (7th) and Thomas Pieters (33rd) are under contract.
With Matt Jones (37th) now a free agent and Jediah Morgan (46th) relegated, Captain Cameron Smith has the option to either re-sign Jones or look to add two new players via free agency or the draft. Marc Leishman, who completes the team, finished 18th in the 2023 Individual Standings.
Captain Brooks Koepka has one open roster spot following Chase Koepka’s relegation while Jason Kokrak (23rd) and Matt Wolff (27th) are under contract for another season.
Captain Louis Oosthuizen’s team is set with Branden Grace (9th), Dean Burmester (14th) and Charl Schwartzel (38th) under contract.
Four-time tournament champions and third-place finishers at this year’s Team Championship, Joaquin Niemann’s Torque has one open roster spot heading into this offseason. Mito Pereira (8th) and Sebastian Muñoz (11th) secured their spots for next year while David Puig is a free agent, having finished 31st in this year’s Individual Standings. Thus, Niemann will look to add one player via free agency or the draft.