After the success of last week’s LIV Golf Adelaide, the big guns have come out firing in round one of LIV Golf Singapore at the beautiful Sentosa Country Club.
Inclement weather halted play for almost two-and-a-half hours with most players having completed 13 holes in the Shotgun Start format, and Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka, Talor Gooch and Cameron Smith held a four-way tie for the lead at -5 when play was called.
On the back of his first LIV Golf success last week, Gooch’s heater continued as he played the best of the quartet when play resumed, a closing eagle seeing the 31-year-old from Oklahoma taking a one-stroke lead at -7, with Smith, Koepka, Garcia and Tringale all signing for six-under 65s.
Gooch made headlines midweek when he claimed that the USGA had retroactively changed the exemption process meaning that he was no longer in the US Open field having qualified for last year’s PGA Tour Championship, though due to leaving to join LIV he wasn’t permitted to take part. The USGA have strenuously denied the accusation, however, with fire in his belly Gooch is in prime position to go back-to-back – something yet to be done in the 11 individual events to date.
“There’s no pixie dust I’ve thrown on the clubs the last couple weeks,” Gooch said. “It’s just the game comes and goes in waves, and hopefully we can continue to ride this wave for as long as we can and play a bunch of good golf.”
Reigning Open champion Smith had a blemish-free card with six birdies, though the Australian was rather fortunate to see his pulled tee shot inexplicably bounce out of the hazard and onto the fairway on the par-5 closing hole. Despite the lucky break, he’d have to settle for par while playing partner Gooch drained a sliding 15-footer to leapfrog the quartet and take sole possession of the lead.
“There’s definitely been a few less media requirements this week, so that was kind of nice,” Smith said after a manic week in Adelaide. “We obviously traveled on Monday and had a really easy day on Tuesday, and I think not only myself but the rest of the boys on the team, as well, were pretty tired. We needed those couple of days, I think, just to kind of chill out and make up on some sleep. Seems like all the other boys played really well again today.”
Playing alongside each other off the second tee, Garcia and Koepka also went bogey-free, with the Spaniard carding four birdies and an eagle and the four-time major winner making six birdies. Bryson DeChambeau, the third member of the group went round in -5 to lie tied for sixth alongside Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen.
Graeme McDowell posted a disappointing three-over 74, making just one birdie, and the Portrush man lies tied for 46th alongside Brendan Steele.
Mickelson’s HyFlyers GC lead the way in the team standings, with the captain himself, Tringale and James Piot combining to shoot -12, one stroke better than Oosthuizen’s Stinger GC for whom Charl Scwartzel and Dean Burmeister also contributed. The all-Australian Ripper GC lie two further back in third thanks to Smith, Marc Leishman and Matt Jones.
Round two will see Gooch joined by Garcia and Tringale on the first tee, while the Koepka, DeChambeau and Smith grouping who go off the second tee may be the most attractive three-ball of the day.
With more thunderstorms expected tomorrow and Sunday, tournament organisers have elected to bring the shotgun start forward and play will now get underway at 08:15 am local time (01:15 am Irish time) for the second round.
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