3 tied for lead after 1st round of LIV Golf in Thailand


BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Richard Bland, Branden Grace and Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra eclipsed their most illustrious opponents on Friday to shoot 7 under-65s and share the lead after the first round of the LIV Golf Invitational-Bangkok.

Marc Leishman and Ian Poulter were one shot behind while Kim Sihwan, Brooks Koepka and Morgan Jediah were among the two backs in the 54-hole event.

The tournament is played at the new Stonehill Golf Club north of downtown Bangkok. The course was created by American designer Kyle Phillips and opened this year.

Dustin Johnson, who tops the money list with just over $12.5 million in five events, shot 70. British Open champion Cameron Smith, who won the last LIV event in Chicago at the mid-September, shot 72.

This is the first time LIV Golf has been played outside the United States since its inaugural event in early June near London.

Before the game started, players learned that they still won’t accumulate rank points on Series LIV. The Official World Golf Rankings said in a statement on Thursday that it had rejected the MENA Tour’s request to immediately add the Saudi-funded series to its schedule.

The OWGR said the MENA Tour did not give them enough notice and there would not be time to complete the review before the Bangkok tournament and next week’s event in Saudi Arabia.

LIV Golf has created an alliance with the little known MENA Tour, which has not held a tournament since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The MENA Tour stands for Middle East and North Africa and is a development tour that has been earning the bare minimum of world ranking points since 2016. It features 54-hole events with a 36-hole cut, offering a purse of 75,000 $.

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