Henrik Stenson co-leads the LIV after 64 debut; Phil Mickelson 11 shots back

BEDMINster, NJ – Henrik Stenson has had a happy return to golf after being sacked as European Ryder Cup captain, making eight birdies on his debut at the LIV Golf Invitational in Bedminster for a 7-under 64 to share the 18-hole lead with Patrick Reed.

Phil Mickelson’s return to the region wasn’t entirely happy.

As he navigated Trump National Bedminster, a spectator yelled, “Do it for the Saudi royal family!”

Mickelson is very popular in the New York area, winning the PGA Championship in nearby Baltusrol and finishing second four times at the US Opens in New York. He is now seen as chief recruiting for Greg Norman and the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Series. He sat down four months earlier this year after insulting comments from the Saudis and the PGA Tour.

“I think I’ve always enjoyed playing in this area,” said Mickelson. “We had a great day after that.” “I thought it was a good day all around. I didn’t think much of that.”

The rest of his day didn’t get much better, especially the ending. He mistook a 12-foot jumper on his last hole, then ran a 3-foot 6-footer near the hole.

“I’ll wait,” he said, and then realizing that he was the furthest from the hole, he said, “Is it still me?”

He made it to finish Spectre and 75.

Former President Donald Trump, who played the pro game Thursday at his home, returned to watch the first round.

Stenson was among four new players added to the 48-player course at the third LIV Golf event. He had pledged full support for the European Tour in March when he accepted the job as Ryder Cup captain, then signed with LIV Golf for a fee of around $50 million.

The Tour stripped him of his job last week when LIV Golf announced his signature.

“It’s nice to be out there playing golf,” said Stenson. “And yes, of course it’s been a busy two weeks and it hasn’t been the most fun, but we keep our focus and focus on golf. Just very happy to have the ability to get out there and do that and play hard on the carousel.

“It’s the best I’ve played all year, and I’m going to benefit a lot from that.”

Reed also earned a 64 in the second LIV golf event. His tour featured six birds in a seven-hole stretch during the start of the gun.

Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai scored 66, while Dustin Johnson and Carlos Ortiz each scored 67 and were behind with three shots.

Charles Howell III (68) and Jason Kokrac (69) also appeared at LIV Golf, while the fourth addition, Paul Casey, had a 73.

The 54-hole event pays $4 million to the winner, while the top three teams play for a $5 million purse.

After opening with a 69 in the first LIV event outside of London, Mickelson posted a 75 or 76 in his subsequent six runs.

“I’m a little disappointed with my game, to be honest,” Mickelson said. “I don’t feel like it’s too far-fetched. I don’t feel lost, I just don’t score. For three holes in the last two holes with sparrows that can be made, I’m just frustrated because I expect more from myself. I’m going to work on it until I fix it.” ”

LIV Golf announced on Friday that two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson will join the series in 2023. Watson, ranked 86th in the world, is recovering from knee surgery and said he won’t be ready to compete until October.

The series has three final events in October in Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Miami. Watson will be captain for the next stop outside Boston in early September and will contribute to the commentary broadcast.

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