Leishman rides Hot Putter to lead at LIV Golf in Tucson

MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — Marc Leishman holed a series of long birdie putts and even a few big putts for par to record a 6-under 65 for a one-shot on Friday at the LIV Golf League in the Arizona high desert. to get ahead.

The second LIV Golf event of the season will be held at The Gallery north of Tucson, where the previous Match Play Championship was held for two years.

In stroke play, the undulating greens and pins hidden on crowns made it difficult to find birdies in some places. That wasn’t a problem for Leishman. The Aussie made from 20 feet on the 14th, from the same distance on the 16th, then rolled to No. 3 in a 40-foot putt.

He also made a 12-foot for par at No. 4. With just one bogey on his card, he led in one shot over Abraham Ancer, Louis Oosthuizen and Matthew Wolff.

Charles Howell III, who opened LIV’s second season with a win in Mayakoba three weeks ago, had one of the best turnarounds. He opened with a double bogey and was 3 over after four holes only to respond with four straight birdies. He graduated at 69.

“I held up well,” Howell said. “You’re up high, the pins are on the edges of the slopes, it’s hard to get the ball close. Birdies are not easy.”

Howell is among eight players who previously played The Gallery when it was a World Golf Championship event in 2007 and 2008. Henrik Stenson won in 2007 and lost to Tiger Woods in the semifinals the following year before moving to another course at Dove Mountain.

Stroke play wasn’t so nice to Stenson. He was over 4 after seven holes and had to rally the rest of the way with four birdies for a 73.

Dustin Johnson also got off to a tough start with a tee shot into the desert for a double bogey at #2, his starting hole at shotgun start and another double bogey at #7. He finished with three straight birdies from close range for a 73.

Joaquin Niemann, Peter Uihlein and David Puig, who signed with Arizona State’s LIV Golf, were each 67 years old. The group at 68 included Sergio Garcia and Pat Perez.

Niemann and Puig each play for Torque, which held a one-shot lead over Smash and Iron Heads in the team competition.

Cameron Smith, ranked #5 in the world as the highest ranked player at LIV Golf, struggled with his tee shots in the high desert. He rallied late in his round with three straight birdies only to hit another wild drive for bogey and a 71 on the 18th hole.

Thirty of the 48 players in the field broke par, including Phil Mickelson (70) and Laurie Canter (70), who again substituted for Martin Kaymer as the German recovers from his injury.


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