Koepka leads by 2 after second day of LIV Golf Singapore

Koepka leads by 2 after second day of LIV Golf Singapore
Captain Brooks Koepka of Smash GC on the eighteenth green during the second round of LIV Golf Singapore at Sentosa Golf Club. (Charles Laberge/LIV Golf)
Short Url
Updated 05 May 2024
Follow

Koepka leads by 2 after second day of LIV Golf Singapore

Koepka leads by 2 after second day of LIV Golf Singapore
  • Smash GC lead team competition by one stroke from Ripper GC

SINGAPORE: For the third time in the last 18 LIV Golf regular-season tournaments, Brooks Koepka will take a three-shot lead entering the final round, this time thanks to a brilliant 7-under 64 in Saturday’s rain-delayed second round at LIV Golf Singapore.

When the Smash GC captain held such an advantage the previous two times, he closed the deal in Orlando and Jeddah last year. Given that the five-time major champion has found his form as his PGA Championship title defense looms later this month, it will be a big challenge for his Singapore pursuers to catch him.

Koepka’s Smash GC teammate, defending Singapore champion Talor Gooch, described the task succinctly: “Hard.”

But, he added, not impossible. “Winning golf tournaments is never easy,” Gooch said. “We all know that. Hopefully, we can make it not easy on him. Hopefully, I can make it not easy on him tomorrow.”

Koepka is at 12 under for the tournament, with Fireballs GC’s Abraham Ancer, Cleeks GC’s Adrian Meronk and the RangeGoats GC duo of Thomas Pieters and Matthew Wolff tied for second at 9 under. Four other players are another shot back – Gooch, Ripper GC’s Lucas Herbert and Marc Leishman, and HyFlyers GC’s Cameron Tringale.

If Koepka converts the three-shot lead into another victory, he will become the first LIV Golf player to win four individual tournaments. He also has a chance to lift two trophies on Sunday if his Smash team can convert its one-shot lead over the Rippers into the team title.

Although he’s playing with plenty of confidence, Koepka is taking nothing for granted.

“Anything is possible,” he said. “Gooch is trailing. He plays this place pretty well. I’ve just got to go out and do what I do, and from there, you can get beat. I have no problem with that if I get beat. But I just want to go out and play good golf, and that’s all I want to do, especially leading into the PGA.”

That good golf was evident following the 4 hour 45 minute weather delay that pushed the shotgun start back to the afternoon. After three pars to start his round, Koepka birdied the par-5 fourth when he threaded his second shot between a row of palm trees, his ball finishing just off the green.

That was the first of three consecutive birdies, and he finished his bogey-free round with four birdies in his last seven holes. A two-shot sequence seemed to epitomize his day — a 53-foot birdie putt on the 13th, then a near-ace on the 14th.

“Brooks was faultless today,” said Pieters, one of his playing partners on Saturday with first-round leader Sebastian Munoz. “I assume he’s going to do the same tomorrow, and it’s going to take a very low one from those of us behind him to win.”

“He’s comfortable being in the lead,” added Wolff, a former Smash teammate who was traded in the offseason to the RangeGoats. “He’s playing good. I think this golf course actually suits him really well. I’ll do what I can control, and other than that, just see what happens.”

Koepka has his wife Jena and nine-month-old son Crew in Singapore with him this week. It’s the third tournament Crew has attended, the first being LIV Golf Miami and the second at the Masters. His father finished T45 both times.

“I was reminded of that on the way over here,” Koepka said. “Hopefully get a little better result.”

Team Counting Scores

Standings and counting scores for Saturday’s second round of the team competition at LIV Golf Singapore. The three best scores from each team count in the first two rounds while all four scores count in the final round. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.

SMASH GC -23 (Koepka 64, Gooch 66, Kokrak 71; Rd. 2 score -12)

RIPPER GC -22 (Smith 65, Herbert 67, Leishman 67; Rd. 2 score -14)

RANGEGOATS GC -21 (Wolff 65, Pieters 67, Uihlein 70; Rd. 2 score -11)

T4. CLEEKS GC -20 (Meronk 66, Bland 68, Kaymer 69; Rd. 2 score -10)

T4. FIREBALLS GC -20 (Ancer 67, Garcia 68, Chacarra 69; Rd. 2 score -9)

LEGION XIII -17 (Hatton 68, Rahm 68, Vincent 68; Rd. 2 score -9)

STINGER GC -14 (Oosthuizen 69, Burmester 70, Schwartzel 70; Rd. 2 score -4)

T8. CRUSHERS GC -13 (DeChambeau 66, Howell III 66, Lahiri 69; Rd. 2 score -12)

T8. HYFLYERS GC -13 (Mickelson 68, Tringale 68, Ogletree 71; Rd. 2 score -6)

T8. TORQUE GC -13 (Niemann 69, Munoz 70, Pereira 70; Rd. 2 score -4)

4ACES GC -12 (Varner III 67, Reed 68, Johnson 70; Rd. 2 score -8)

IRON HEADS GC -10 (Vincent 66, Na 70, Kozuma 72; Rd. 2 score -5)

MAJESTICKS GC -7 (Poulter 68, Stenson 68, Westwood 71; Rd. 2 score -6)


Scottie Scheffler outlasts protest on 18th green, Tom Kim to win Travelers for 6th victory of year

Scottie Scheffler outlasts protest on 18th green, Tom Kim to win Travelers for 6th victory of year
Updated 24 June 2024
Follow

Scottie Scheffler outlasts protest on 18th green, Tom Kim to win Travelers for 6th victory of year

Scottie Scheffler outlasts protest on 18th green, Tom Kim to win Travelers for 6th victory of year

CROMWELL, Connecticut: Scottie Scheffler had to wait out a climate protest on the 18th green and Tom Kim’s tying birdie on the last hole of regulation.
Those events only delayed what seems to be inevitable on the PGA Tour this season: the best golfer in the world walking off with the trophy.
Shrugging off a protest that interrupted the tournament on the 72nd hole while the leaders were lining up their putts, Scheffler won the Travelers Championship on the first hole of sudden death on Sunday for his sixth win of the year, the most in one season on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods had six in 2009.
“When something like that happens, you don’t really know what’s happening, So it can kind of rattle you a little bit,” Scheffler said.
“That can be a stressful situation, and you would hate for the tournament to end on something weird happening because of a situation like that,” he said. “Tom and I both tried to calm each other down so we could give it our best shot there on 18.”
Scheffler closed with a 5-under 65 and a 22-under 258 total at the TPC River Highlands, and Kim matched him with a final-round 66.

Scottie Scheffler, right, shakes hands with Tom Kim, of South Korea, after winning the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands on June 23, 2024. (AP)

Tom Hoge and Sungjae Im tied for third, two shots back, with Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas and Akshay Bhatia tied for fifth at 18 under. Bhatia was also in the final group that was disrupted by the protest.
“I was scared for my life,” he said. “I didn’t even really know what was happening. ... But thankfully the cops were there and kept us safe, because that’s, you know, that’s just weird stuff.”
It was Scheffler’s fourth victory of the year in the tour’s $20 million, limited-field signature events, earning him a payday of $3.6 million. He also won the Masters and The Players Championship.
And Scheffler still has two months to go.
“As much as I love him, I would have loved to take that away from him,” said Kim, who shares a birthday and a friendship with Scheffler. “But I’m happy for him, and after I tapped out, after he tapped out, he said some really nice words and it meant a lot to me.”
Scheffler had a one-stroke lead heading to the 18th green on Sunday when six people stormed the course, waving smoke bombs that left a red and white powdery residue on the putting surface. Some wore white T-shirts with the words “NO GOLF ON A DEAD PLANET” in black lettering.
They were tackled by police and taken off.
The activist group Extinction Rebellion, which has a history of disrupting events around the world, claimed responsibility for the protest. In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, the group blamed climate change for an electrical storm that injured two people at a home near the course on Saturday.
After a delay of about five minutes, when tournament officials used towels and blowers to remove the powder and any other marks that might affect play, Scheffler left a 26-foot putt from the fringe on the edge of the cup and tapped in for par.
Kim then made a 10-foot birdie putt for a 66 to match Scheffler.
“Obviously it is a disruption and you don’t want it to happen, but for me it just kind of slowed things down,” Kim said. “It took the meaning of the putt away for a second. Because for the past 17 and a half holes all you’re thinking about is golf, and suddenly when that happens your mind goes into a complete — like, you’re almost not even playing golf anymore. I thought it was a dream for a second.”
The hole location on the 18th was moved for the playoff to avoid the parts of the green affected by the protesters.
Scheffler hit his approach in the playoff to 11 feet while Kim found a greenside bunker. Kim’s blast from a plugged lie ran 36 feet past the hole, leaving Scheffler with an easy two-putt par for the victory. Afterward, his wife, Meredith, met him on the green, carrying their 6-week-old son, Bennett.
“It’s fun competing against your friends,” Scheffler said. “But at the same time, it’s difficult. Because part of me wants him to miss the putt and part of me wants him to make the putt. ... But he should remember that putt he made on 18, because it was pretty special. And he’s a great player and a great champion.”

Scottie Scheffler poses with his baby son Bennett and his wife Meredith, left, along with his parents Diane Scheffler, second from right, and Scott Scheffler, right, after winning the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands on June 23, 2024, in Cromwell, Connecticut. (AP)

Coming off a tie for 41st in the US Open – by far his worst finish of the year — Scheffler trailed Kim by three strokes after the first round, by two after the second round and by one heading to the tee on Sunday.
Scheffler took a one-shot lead over Kim with three straight birdies on Nos. 13-15 — he had putts for eagle on two of them. While Hoge signed for a 62 to finish at 20 under, and Im joined him there, Scheffler and Kim matched pars over the next two holes to set up the surprising finish.
Scheffler and Kim share a June 21 birthday — Scheffler is six years older — and they celebrated with New Haven pizza before the tournament about 30 miles north. The Dallas-area residents played together in the final group on Sunday, chatting and joking around.
But only one of them could hold the trophy at the end.
And just like it’s been so often, it was Scheffler.
Kim said being in a pack of leaders with his birthday buddy allowed him to focus on his own game.
“You don’t need to worry about him, because he’s going to play well,” Kim said. “Obviously he’s a phenomenal player, world No. 1, all those titles. But at the same time for me he’s just Scottie Scheffler, he’s just a good friend.
“To come down with someone that I play a lot of golf with, who beats me a lot at home — and, unfortunately, he beat me in the playoff too,” Kim said. “But it definitely made it a lot more enjoyable out there.”
 


Amy Yang wins the Women’s PGA Championship for her first major title

Amy Yang wins the Women’s PGA Championship for her first major title
Updated 24 June 2024
Follow

Amy Yang wins the Women’s PGA Championship for her first major title

Amy Yang wins the Women’s PGA Championship for her first major title
  • She was nearly flawless for the first 15 holes and reached 10 under for the tournament for a seven-shot lead before running into a little bit of trouble
  • This was Yang’s 75th major start, the most before a player’s first major title since Stanford, who was playing her 76th

SAMAMMISH, Washington: Amy Yang built a huge lead and survived a couple of late mistakes to win her long-awaited first major title on Sunday, a three-shot victory in the KMPG Women’s PGA Championship.

Yang closed with an even-par 72 at Sahalee to finish at 7-under 281. She was nearly flawless for the first 15 holes and reached 10 under for the tournament for a seven-shot lead before running into a little bit of trouble. But none of her pursuers was able to mount a significant charge.

At age 34, Yang is the oldest major winner on the LPGA Tour since Angela Stanford won the 2018 Evian Championship at age 40. Anna Nordqvist had recently turned 34 when she won the Women’s British Open in 2021.

This was Yang’s 75th major start, the most before a player’s first major title since Stanford, who was playing her 76th.

Yang’s sixth LPGA victory was her first since last year’s CME Group Tour Championship, which was also the most recent victory by a South Korean player. She earned a spot in the Paris Olympics, where she will represent South Korea for the third time.

Twice earlier in her career, Yang held the 54-hole lead in a major only to fall short. At the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, Yang was tied with Michelle Wie going into the final round, but shot 74 as Wie won. A year later in the same tournament at Lancaster Country Club, Yang had a three-shot advantage, but In Gee Chun shot 66 to win by one.

This time, Lilia Vu and Jin Young Ko each shot 71 to tie for second at 4 under. Vu shot three rounds under par, but couldn’t overcome a 75 in the first round.

Yang was remarkably steady until her final few holes. She made five bogeys over her first 69 holes before she three-putted the 16th. Then she pushed her tee shot on the par-3 17th well right and it bounced into a lake, leading to double bogey.

Yang steadied herself with a perfect tee shot on the par-5 18th, leading to a two-putt par and a massive celebration on the green, where she was doused with Champagne by several players.

Yang held a two-shot advantage when she stepped to the first tee on a cooler Sunday after three straight days of above-average temperatures. The front nine saw breezes whistle through the towering trees to the point play had to be paused so pollen buds could be blown off the greens.

Yang was unfazed. By the time she made the turn, she led by five. Yang birdied the first hole, chipped in for birdie from 23 yards off the green on the fifth and dropped a 7-foot birdie putt on the eighth — the toughest hole on the course — to move to 9 under.

When she hit into the trees on No. 10 and made bogey, Yang responded with a birdie at the 11th and made her final birdie at the 13th.

Playing in the final group with Yang, Lauren Hartlage had a chance to tie the lead at 8 under, but her 5-foot birdie try on the par-5 sixth hole caught the left edge, spun around the cup and stayed out. Hartlage made double bogeys at Nos. 7 and 8 and made the turn six shots behind. She tied for fifth at 3 under, her best career finish.


Hatton leads by 3, DeChambeau lurks, Rahm’s Legion XIII grab team lead at LIV Golf Nashville

Hatton leads by 3, DeChambeau lurks, Rahm’s Legion XIII grab team lead at LIV Golf Nashville
Updated 23 June 2024
Follow

Hatton leads by 3, DeChambeau lurks, Rahm’s Legion XIII grab team lead at LIV Golf Nashville

Hatton leads by 3, DeChambeau lurks, Rahm’s Legion XIII grab team lead at LIV Golf Nashville
  • Hatton birdied six of his final seven holes at The Grove en route to a bogey-free 7-under 64
  • With Legion XIII leading the team competition by five strokes over the Crushers, plenty of hardware is up for grabs among the top four players

COLLEGE GROVE, Tennessee: After a frustrating early string of nine consecutive pars, Tyrrell Hatton found another gear down the stretch in Saturday’s second round of LIV Golf Nashville.

As a result, the Legion XIII star is 18 holes away from his first individual title since joining LIV Golf.But first, he will have to hold off his closest pursuers, including a reserve player seeking a storybook result, and a couple of two-time major winners — including last week’s US Open champion.Hatton birdied six of his final seven holes at The Grove en route to a bogey-free 7-under 64.

His two-day total of 13 under leaves him three strokes ahead of Crushers GC’s John Catlin, the replacement for the injured Charles Howell III. Their captains — the Crushers’ Bryson DeChambeau and Legion XIII’s Jon Rahm, two of LIV Golf’s biggest stars — are another stroke back, tied for third at 9 under.

With Legion XIII leading the team competition by five strokes over the Crushers, plenty of hardware is up for grabs among the top four players. “I’ll probably be a little bit nervous tomorrow, but I’d say that’s a good thing,” said Hatton, whose last professional title was in 2021. “Obviously if you’re nervous about something, you genuinely care about it.”

The individual leaderboard was packed for the first half of Saturday— at one point, more than 30 players were within four shots of the lead. But then Hatton went on a birdie binge that included a chip-in at the par-3 13th, followed by a 30-foot putt on the 14th.

“Around this golf course, if you hit the ball good, you’re going to have a lot of opportunities for birdie,” said Hatton, who joined LIV Golf in the offseason to play for Rahm’s expansion team. “You don’t want to be making too many pars. It was kind of OK in the end, but I guess tomorrow I wouldn’t want to be stringing 10 pars in a row, obviously, when you’re being chased.”

Catlin shot his second consecutive 66, playing his final nine holes in a bogey-free 4 under. Having competed on multiple tours across the globe and with 13 professional wins, Catlin welcomes the opportunity to write his own Cinderella story this week. No reserve player has ever finished inside the top five of a LIV Golf tournament.

“I’ve been here before and I can honestly say I’ve won before, and I can do it again,” he said. “I’m going to go out and control what I can control, and we’ll see what happens.”

DeChambeau has battled fatigued in the whirlwind aftermath of last Sunday’s tense US Open victory at Pinehurst. He bogeyed two of his first three holes Saturday but avoided further trouble, finishing with four birdies in his last seven holes as he fed off the energy of the sold-out crowd.

“I’m proud of the way that I’ve managed my energy, although I have close to zero right now,” DeChambeau said. “… All I want is a shot on the back nine, and that back nine is gettable. Hopefully, I can get the job done tomorrow.”

Entering this week, Rahm was unsure how competitive he would be after withdrawing during the second round of LIV Golf Houston with a foot infection that forced him to miss the US Open.

After an opening 70, he produced the lowest score of the second round, an 8-under 63 that included nine birdies. That ties for his lowest round relative to par in LIV Golf.

“I needed a round like that to get close to the lead,” Rahm said. “Obviously, Tyrrell finished fantastic. Still a little bit of work to do tomorrow.”Hatton, Catlin and DeChambeau will play in the leaders’ group off the first tee, with Rahm playing with Ripper GC captain Cameron Smith and Torque GC’s Carlos Ortiz — the winner two weeks ago at LIV Golf Houston — in the earlier group that starts off the first tee at 12:05 p.m. CDT. Smith and Ortiz are tied for fifth at 8 under.

Team counting scores

Standings and counting scores for Saturday’s second round of the team competition at LIV Golf Nashville:

1. LEGION XIII -28 (Rahm 63, Hatton 64, Vincent 66; Rd. 2 score: -20)

2. CRUSHERS GC -23 (Catlin 66, DeChambeau 66, Lahiri 68; Rd. 2 score: -13)

3. MAJESTICKS GC -19 (Westwood 66, Poulter 67, Horsfield 68; Rd. 2 score: -12)

4. TORQUE GC -18 (Ortiz 66, Niemann 69, Pereira 69; Rd. 2 score: -9)

5. IRON HEADS GC -15 (Kozuma 67, Na 67, Vincent 67; Rd. 2 score: -12)

6. CLEEKS GC -14 (Meronk 66, Bland 67, Kaymer 70; Rd. 2 score: -10)

T7. SMASH GC -13 (Kokrak 65, McDowell 68, Gooch 69; Rd. 2 score: -11)

T7. STINGER GC -13 (Burmester 66, Grace 68, Oosthuizen 70; Rd. 2 score: -9)

T7. FIREBALLS GC -13 (Chacarra 70, Garcia 71, Puig 73; Rd. 2 score: +1)

10. RIPPER GC -11 (Smith 65, Leishman 69, Jones 72; Rd. 2 score: -7)

11. 4ACES GC -8 (Varner III 64, Perez 69, Reed 70; Rd. 2 score: -10)

T12. RANGEGOATS GC -6 (Wolff 67, Pieters 68, Watson 71; Rd. 2 score: -7)

T12. HYFLYERS GC -6 (Steele 67, Mickelson 70, Tringale 70; Rd. 2 score: -6)


Tom Kim clings to a 1-shot lead over Scheffler and Bhatia in rain-delayed Travelers

Tom Kim clings to a 1-shot lead over Scheffler and Bhatia in rain-delayed Travelers
Updated 23 June 2024
Follow

Tom Kim clings to a 1-shot lead over Scheffler and Bhatia in rain-delayed Travelers

Tom Kim clings to a 1-shot lead over Scheffler and Bhatia in rain-delayed Travelers
  • Kim was at 18-under 192 going into the final round in which 10 players were within five shots of the lead
  • Cameron Young shot 59, the 13th sub-60 round on the PGA Tour and first in nearly four years

CROMWELL, Connecticut: Tom Kim made enough birdies on a soft, vulnerable course to stay in front Saturday in the rain-delayed Travelers Championship, getting up-and-down for par on the last hole in near darkness for a 5-under 65 and a one-shot lead over Scottie Scheffler and Akshay Bhatia.

The tone of this pitch-and-putt day at the TPC River Highlands was set long before thunderstorms halted play for nearly three hours. Cameron Young shot 59, the 13th sub-60 round on the PGA Tour and first in nearly four years.

And then the rain made it even softer, and the wind subsided late in the evening as Kim, Scheffler and Xander Schauffele raced to beat darkness.

Scheffler, the world’s No. 1 player coming off a rare pedestrian performance at the US Open, was slowed by a pair of soft bogeys — his putter from fringe on No. 11, a bad drive into mangled weeds on No. 14 — and answered with four straight birdies.

“I was pretty frustrated after that bogey on 14, felt like I was putting myself out of the tournament,” Scheffler said. “So it was nice to bounce back and finish it the way I did.”

His wedge on the 18th rolled back within an inch of the cup, which he tapped in for 64. He played with Bhatia, who has two PGA Tour titles in the last 12 months. He poured in a 25-foot birdie putt to match Scheffler at 64.

Schauffele played bogey-free until the final hole when his 3-foot par putt horseshoed around the cup and left him with a 64. He was two shots back along with Sungjae Im, who made a birdie putt from some 40 feet on the final hole.

Kim, who turned 22 on Friday, is still leading a large cast of All-Stars. He was at 18-under 192 going into the final round in which 10 players were within five shots of the lead.

“It’s a stacked leaderboard,” Kim said. “Out here, a five-, six-shot lead is not safe at all. So I’ve got to go out tomorrow and do the same game plan and execute.”

The group within five shots includes Young, who was tied for 43rd when he arrived at the course in the morning. He was 5 under through four holes — he holed out with a wedge from 142 yards on No. 3 — made another eagle on the 280-yard 15th hole with a 3-iron to 4 feet and got to 11 under with a 5-foot birdie on the 17th.

He was tied when he walked off the course and still in the mix when the round finally ended. Young didn’t see this kind of round coming.

“Did exactly what I do every day coming to the golf course — get a coffee, ate, saw the physio, and went out there, warmed up,” he said. “Didn’t feel particularly awesome. I chunked a few less on the range than I did yesterday. Then, yeah, came out and just was very comfortable and things just started coming down close to the hole.”

Tee times for Sunday have been moved forward because of more storms in the forecast, meaning the course isn’t likely to get any tougher. Preferred lies were in effect for the second consecutive round.

“Feels like more than ever you’re going to have to keep your head down,” Schauffele said. “It’s kind of been my motto — ‘Stay in my lane’ — for quite some time, and I think tomorrow it’s going to hold pretty true. You can get on a run at any point on this golf course.

“(You) definitely have to earn your birdies,” he said. “But I think they’re going to be coming in bunches tomorrow.”

Five players had at least a share of the lead at some point, some of that made possible by Kim’s lone mistake. He three-putted from 10 feet on the fourth hole, his 3-foot par putt not even touching the hole. But he bounced back with three birdies on the par 3s and a tough chip across the 15th green to set up an easy birdie.

He went from the fairway bunker to short of the 18th green, and his pitched rolled out to a short range for his final par to stay in front.

The final signature event of the PGA Tour season certainly looks like one with quality of players chasing — from Scheffler and Schauffele, down to Collin Morikawa, Shane Lowry, Patrick Cantlay and Justin Thomas.

“You’re not going to separate yourself. Someone is going to play one shot better than anyone else,” Bhatia said. “We’ll see what tomorrow entails. It’s just going to be a good challenge.”


Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville

Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville
Updated 22 June 2024
Follow

Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville

Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville
  • With Ancer leading the way, Fireballs GC lead the team competition by four shots over DeChambeau’s Crushers GC, with Torque GC another shot back in third
  • The crowd support helped keep DeChambeau going, and he acknowledged them at every opportunity — including at the par-3 15th party hole when he made birdie, then cupped his ear to hear the fans cheer

COLLEGE GROVE: In his first round since winning the US Open, a worn-out Bryson DeChambeau continued to thrive off the energy of his growing fan base, shooting a 4-under 67 on Friday at LIV Golf Nashville.

Meanwhile, a rejuvenated Abraham Ancer continued to ride the form that’s already led to one LIV Golf victory this season, as he grabbed the first-round lead at The Grove with a bogey-free 7-under 64.
 

With Ancer leading the way, Fireballs GC lead the team competition by four shots over DeChambeau’s Crushers GC, with Torque GC another shot back in third. The Fireballs, captained by Sergio Garcia, are seeking their first team title this season after trying for second in each of the previous two tournaments.
 
Ancer opened his round with a birdie, and then took the lead on his final nine with four birdies in a five-hole stretch. He finished by getting up-and-down on his last hole to keep his scorecard clean.
 

“Extremely happy the way I fought today,” said Ancer, the winner at LIV Golf Hong Kong earlier this year in a playoff. “Even the last hole, I put myself in a tough spot and then made a longish putt for par, which was really nice. You don’t want to finish on a bogey.”

One shot back is Legion XIII’s Tyrrell Hatton, the only player this season to finish inside the top 24 in points in each of the first eight tournaments. Hatton leaned heavily on his putter during a round in which he needed just 24 putts. 

“The big thing that I was most pleased with today was just the putter,” Hatton said. “Feel like I holed out really well from inside 10 feet.”

In solo third is John Catlin, a reserve player who is filling in for injured Crushers veteran Charles Howell III for the second consecutive LIV Golf tournament. Catlin’s 5-under 66 was highlighted by a stretch of four birdies in five holes around his turn.

No reserve player has finished inside the top 5 of a LIV Golf tournament, but Catlin, a 13-time winner in his professional career and currently second in the International Series standings, is confident he can continue to make noise this week.

“I feel like if I can go out and play my game, I’m capable of anything,” he said.

DeChambeau is in a four-way tie for fourth with Torque’s Sebastián Muñoz, Fireballs’ Eugenio Chacarra and Majesticks GC’s Sam Horsfield.
 
The last few days have been a whirlwind for the Crushers captain after winning his second US Open with a clutch up-and-down on the 72nd hole at Pinehurst. A media tour in New York followed the next day before he traveled to Nashville for this week’s tournament.
 
“I’m a zombie right now. I’m a dead man walking,” he said.
 
But the crowd support Friday helped keep him going, and he acknowledged them at every opportunity — including at the par-3 15th party hole when he made birdie, then cupped his ear to hear the fans cheer.
 
“It’s quite an honor to be out here and have so much support,” DeChambeau said. “It’s fantastic. This is what LIV is all about.”

Team counting scores

Standings and counting scores for Friday’s opening round of the team competition at LIV Golf Nashville:

 

1. FIREBALLS GC -14 (Ancer 64, Chacarra 67, Garcia 68)

 

2. CRUSHERS GC -10 (Catlin 66, DeChambeau 67, Casey 70)

 

3. TORQUE GC -9 (Muñoz 67, Ortiz 68, Pereira 69)

 

4. LEGION XIII -8 (Hatton 65, Rahm 70, Surratt 70)

 

5. MAJESTICKS GC -7 (Horsfield 67, Westwood 69, Stenson 70)

 

T6. STINGER GC -4 (Schwartzel 69, Burmester 70, Oosthuizen 70)

 

T6. RIPPER GC -4 (Leishman 69, Smith 69, Jones 71)

 

T6. CLEEKS GC -4 (Kaymer 68, Bland 70, Samooja 71)

 

9. IRON HEADS GC -3 (Na 69, Vincent 69, Kozuma 72)

 

10. SMASH GC -2 (Koepka 69, Kokrak 71, Gooch 71)

 

11. HYFLYERS GC E (Mickelson 70, Steele 71, Ogletree 72)

 

12. RANGEGOATS GC +1 (Watson 70, Wolff 72, Uihlein 72)

 

13. 4ACES GC +2 (Varner III 71, Reed 72, Perez 72)