Australian Marc Leishman played mostly social golf during his extended offseason. Even though he’s back to business, he’s maintained his relaxed approach – and it paid off on day one at LIV Golf Tucson. Leishman (Ripper GC) opened with a 6-under 65 at The Gallery South Course to grab a one-shot lead over Abraham Ancer (Fireballs GC), Matthew Wolff (Smash GC) and Louis Oosthuizen (Stinger GC captain). Peter Uihlein (4Aces GC) and Torque GC teammates Joaquin Niemann and David Puig are tied for fifth, two shots behind.
The 39-year-old Leishman, who is seeking his 14th career pro victory, said: “I’m enjoying my golf at the moment … Playing with no consequences over the offseason kind of gave me a little bit of confidence with some of the shots I hit and how they turned out.”
In the team competition, Torque GC leads at 10 under thanks to counting rounds by Niemann (67), Puig (67) and Sebastian Munoz (69). The Spanish-speaking team is one shot ahead of three teams – Smash GC, Fireballs GC and Iron Heads GC. Torque comes off its first-ever podium finish, a third place at LIV Golf Mayakoba. The next step for Captain Niemann and his crew is a champagne first-place celebration. “I’m pretty excited to see what’s going to happen on the weekend,” Niemann said of Torque, the youngest of the 12 LIV Golf League teams. The youngest player is the 21-year-old Puig, who played collegiately at Arizona State in Tempe before turning pro last year to become a LIV Golf member. Puig recently played a practice round with Arizona State legend Phil Mickelson and carded 11 birdies. He produced seven on Friday, tying for the most in the field. “It’s nice to see David playing great,” Niemann said. “… Pretty cool to see him scoring well. The practice rounds, you could tell he was feeling like home.”
As for the affable Leishman, he and his Ripper GC teammates – captained by reigning Open Champion Cameron Smith – are building the type of camaraderie they hope will manifest itself into team trophies. Next month, LIV Golf travels to Australia for the first time, with huge crowds expected for LIV Golf Adelaide. “It’ll be nice to be able to play in front of home crowds in Adelaide, which is a really cool city,” Leishman said. “They love their sport. Certainly excited to get down there and just showcase what we’ve got with LIV.”
The three best scores from each team count in every round for their total team score. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.
As it stands after day one:
1. TORQUE GC (-10): Joaquin Niemann 67, David Puig 67, Sebastian Munoz 69 T2. SMASH GC (-9): Matthew Wolff 66, Brooks Koepka 69, Chase Koepka 69 T2. IRON HEADS (-9): Danny Lee 68, Kevin Na 68, Scott Vincent 68 T2. FIREBALLS GC (-9): Abraham Ancer 66, Sergio Garcia 68, Eugenio Chacarra 70 T5. RIPPER GC (-7): Marc Leishman 65, Matt Jones 70, Cameron Smith 71 T5. 4ACES GC (-7): Peter Uihlein 67, Pat Perez 68, Patrick Reed 71 7. HYFLYERS GC (-6): Cameron Tringale 68, Brendan Steele 69, Phil Mickelson 70 T8. STINGER GC (-5): Louis Oosthuizen 66, Branden Grace 70, Dean Burmester 72 T8. CRUSHERS GC (-5): Charles Howell III 69, Paul Casey 69, Anirban Lahiri 70 10. RANGEGOATS GC (-4): Thomas Pieters 69, Talor Gooch 70, Harold Varner III 70 11. MAJESTICKS GC (E): Sam Horsfield 69, Ian Poulter 72, Henrik Stenson 72 12. CLEEKS GC (+1): Laurie Canter 70, Graeme McDowell 72, Bernd Wiesberger 72