Graeme McDowell dove-tailed superbly with his team-mates and helped steer his Cleeks to the lead on the opening day of the historic LIV Golf Adelaide in Adelaide.
McDowell grabbed six birdies in a five-under-par 67 with playing partners Richard Bland and Bernd Wiesberger, each shooting six-under 66s, for a combined 16-under tally played in glorious autumn conditions on the host The Grange course in the South Australian capital.
In the individual format, American Talor Gooch stormed his way to the third lowest score in Australian men’s tournament history in signing for a 10-under-par 62, and four shots clear of the duo of Bland and South African Dean Burmester sharing second at six-under with McDowell and Wiesberger in a group sharing fourth place.
However, it was in the team format where McDowell, ‘Blandie’ and Wiesberger shone, with their Cleeks side delighting a ‘sold out’ crowd to be two clear of the all-Springbok trio of Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Burmester.
“It’s nice to see the Cleeks atop of the team board, absolutely,” said McDowell. “We were kind of getting a little frustrated the first couple events. We finished fifth or sixth in Orlando.
“Blandie has been playing great. I feel like I’m trending in the right direction. Bernd is a great player. We have Martin (Kaymer) back this week, which obviously he didn’t play the way he wants to, but I think just having the band back together again, getting that little bit of consistency, getting that nice kind of — we feel like we can compete on weeks like this, and Martin will be fired up tomorrow and hopefully we can all continue to play well.
“Overall, it was a great day. It was fun to all kind of all play together for the first time in the first round. I feel like we kind of pushed each other along and had a good time.
“So, nice to get off to a fast start. A lot of golf to play. This golf course is all about fairways and greens. We liked it from the word go when we saw it, and nice to get off to a fast start, but a lot of work to do.”
McDowell is on a first visit to Australia since late 2016 when he teamed with Shane Lowry to represent Ireland at the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne.
However, it’s McDowell’s first visit to Adelaide with GMac full of praise for the support shown to all players in this first hosting of a LIV event in Australia, and in particular the reception players were receiving at the 12th hole renamed ‘The Watering Hole” which, as you may well known, is Aussie for a pub.
“It was great with the fans boisterous, kind of exactly what I expected,” he said. “I think we’ve both played down here a few times before and the fans are great. They tell you what they think, and great atmosphere. I wasn’t sure what to expect on 12. We got to the Watering Hole after they’d been pretty well watered, and it was a lot of fun.
“I just wish the hole was about 20 yards shorter because trying to stand up with a 7-iron in there today, I’d rather be hitting 9-iron with that amount of noise and that amount of fun going on.
“It’s a great hole. This is what LIV is all about. It’s golf, and this is very loud this week. It’s good fun.”
- Full scoring HERE
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