Gooch holds early lead at LIV Golf in Australia

ADELAIDE, Australia — Talor Gooch upstaged the more-fancied names on the LIV Golf tour by shooting a 10-under 62 Friday to take a four-stroke lead after the first round of the inaugural Australian tournament at The Grange.

The 31-year-old American started with a par on his opening hole in the shotgun-start format — the par-3 12th — but then had 10 birdies, including five in a row.

Two more players in the unfancied category — Richard Bland and Dean Burmester — shot 66s and were tied for second. Five players were tied for fourth, including Danny Lee, who won the second LIV event in Arizona in mid-March.

“If anyone says they’re not surprised at 10-under, they’re lying,” Gooch said. “It’s the day that you work hard for … it was one of those rounds where I was hitting it close and making a lot of putts, so it was fun.”

The higher-profile names in the 48-player field were further behind on the leaderboard.

Sergio Garcia shot 68 and British Open champion Cameron Smith and Brooks Koepka had 69s. Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson had 70s and Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson shot 71. Bryson DeChambeau had a 73.

LIV Golf and local organizers said there was a sellout crowd of 35,000 for the first day. Local media reported that there were long lines of fans waiting to enter the course when the golfers teed off shortly after midday in Adelaide.

“The energy was really high out there,” said Smith, who is Australian. “It’s nice to have a lot of people that are riding with you but it’s also pretty stressful — you want to hit a good shot all the time, it’s not as free-flowing as what it typically is.”

Johnson’s team, Aces GC, led the team leaderboard entering the fourth tournament of the year. Charles Howell III, who won the season-opening event in Mexico and shot 69 on Friday, leads the overall individual standings ahead of Koepka, who won the last LIV tournament in Orlando.

The individual winner at The Grange will collect $4 million of the total $20 million purse.

The 14-event season continues next weekend at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore.

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