Harold Varner III leads by two shots after first round at LIV DC in Washington; PGA champion Brooks Koepka level par after shooting an opening 72; Defending Open champion Cameron Smith tied for third at four under; Varner is looking for his first win at LIV and first win since February 2022
Last Updated: 27/05/23 12:19am
Harold Varner III made two eagles en route to an eight-under 64 at Trump National Golf Club in Washington, DC, to lead the first round of the latest LIV Golf event.
Varner is two clear of James Piot (six-under 66), with a group tied for third at four-under 68 that includes Australia’s Cameron Smith, Chile’s Mito Pereira, Kevin Na and Andy Ogletree.
Varner opened his round with a bogey on the par-three fourth hole but quickly negated it. After a birdie that brought him back to even, he made an eagle-two on the 317-yard, par-four ninth hole.
His second eagle came four holes later on the par-five 13th hole. He followed that with two birdies for a four-under run through three holes. He birdied the last two par-fives (Nos 18 and 3) to set the pace.
Varner, 32, is seeking his first win on the Saudi-funded LIV circuit. He has had a great career so far and tied for 29th in The Masters and the PGA Championship this season, but his last win came in February 2022 at the Saudi International on the Asian Tour.
Piot and Ogletree are former US Amateur winners among the young pros hoping to make a mark in the PGA Tour’s new rival league. Piot had seven birdies and one bogey on Friday, while Ogletree had five birdies and one bogey.
Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed were among the names tied for three-under 69, while Spain’s Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia, among others, shot two-under 70.
Brooks Koepka, coming off his fifth career major title on Sunday at the PGA Championship, opened with an even-par 72.
Phil Mickelson is in 44th place after an opening two-over 74.
Varner’s RangeGoats GC is tied with Iron Heads GC for the team competition lead at 10 under. Varner, Talor Gooch (70) and Belgium’s Thomas Pieters (72) tallied the points for the RangeGoats, while the Iron Heads were buoyed by captain Na, Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent (69) and New Zealand’s Danny Lee (69). .