Lahiri 17th at Adelaide Liv event, Gooch leads at 10-under

Adelaide: India’s Anirban Lahiri shot three-under 69 to lie tied 17th as American Talor Gooch fired a flawless 10-under 62 to take the opening-round lead at the LIV Golf tournament here.

Lahiri had five birdies against two bogeys in the event.

Gooch carded 10 birdies at the Grange Golf Club on Friday to be four shots clear of Englishman Richard Bland and South Africa’s Dean Burmester, who were in a tie for second place.

Huge crowds thronged the venue – the first to host a LIV Golf event Down Under – as Rangegoats GC’s Gooch opened a six-shot lead over the field but received precious little support from the rest of the squad. Dean Burmester of South Africa and England’s Richard Bland shared second place on six-under 66.

In the parallel team event, Cleeks GC (Richard Bland, Graeme McDowell and Bernd Wiesberger counting), who have not figured on the podium even once so far since 2022, led by two shots from the all-South African Stingers (Burmester, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel counting) and three from a resurgent Iron Heads (Danny Lee, Kevin Na and Scott Vincent counting),

LIV Golf League tweaked the batting order – so to say – for this fourth event of their 2023 calendar, putting the captains of all 12 teams in the first four groups for the shotgun start and clubbing each team together behind them in yet another innovation designed to drive the scoring along.

Lahiri, turning out for the Bryson Dechambeau-led Crushers GC, opened on the 17th hole and made quiet progress into the top 10 of the leaderboard, only to drop a bogey on his very last hole and fall back into a seven-way tie for 17th place alongside team-mate Charles Howell III.

Till late into the round, the Indian star received little support from his team for whom he, Howell and Paul Casey (one-under 71) were the three counting (best) scores on the day as DeChambeau continued an indifferent run of form that saw him down in shared 40th place on a one-over 73.

Gooch – who had a remarkable 10 birdies and zero bogies – later said that he could play such golf every day. “I just hit everything real close, and most of my birdie conversions were between eight and 10 feet. It was a blast out there.”

His 10-under for the day set a LIV Golf record for the lowest round in relation to par besides being the best-ever recorded in an LIV event so far. “It’s the days that you work hard for,” added the American, who missed just one fairway and one green all day long.

The all-European Cleeks grabbed the lead on 16 under driven by Bland’s 66 and 65s from McDowell and Austrian team-mate Wiesberger. “Obviously fun to kind of all play together for the first time in the first round,” McDowell said on the event website. “I feel like we kind of pushed each other along and had a good time.”

Team counting scores

1. Cleeks GC (-16) Richard Bland 66, Graeme McDowell 67, Bernd Wiesberger 67

2. Stinger GC (-14) Dean Burmester 66, Louis Oosthuizen 68, Charl Schwartzel 68

T3. Iron Heads GC (-13) Danny Lee 67, Kevin Na 68, Scott Vincent 68

T3. Rangegoats (-13) GC Talor Gooch 62, Bubba Watson 70, Harold Varner III 71

5. HyFlyers GC (-11) Brendan Steele 67, Cameron Tringale 69, James Piot 69

6. 4Aces GC (-10) Pat Perez 67, Peter Uihlein 68, Patrick Reed 71

7. Smash GC (-9) Jason Kokrak 68, Brooks Koepka 69, Chase Koepka 70

8. Crushers GC (-8) Charles Howell III 69, Anirban Lahiri 69, Paul Casey 71

9. Fireballs (-6) Sergio Garcia 68, Abraham Ancer 69, Carlos Ortiz 73

10. Majesticks GC (-5) Henrik Stenson 68, Lee Westwood 71, Ian Poulter 72

T 11. Torque GC (-4) Joaquin Niemann 70, David Puig 70, Mito Pereira 72

T 11 Ripper GC (-4) Cameron Smith 69, Marc Leishman 71, Matt Jones 72