Reuters– Australia’s Marc Leishman takes early lead at LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah, Saudi Arabia2 Minute Read
Marc Leishman, the former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, showcases his skills at the LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, taking the first-round lead with a flawless 5-under 65. Leishman holds a one-stroke advantage over defending champion Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Harold Varner III in this prestigious $25 million regular season-ending tournament held at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.
Playing under challenging conditions on the 7,048-yard course in King Abdullah Economic City, Leishman impressively nails four birdies on the front nine (Nos. 4, 5, 8, and 9) and adds another at the par-4 12th hole. Despite the blustery winds, Leishman’s solid play and excellent putting enable him to secure a strong position in the tournament.
Reflecting on the difficult conditions, Leishman comments, “Yeah, it was pretty tough. A fair bit of wind, and it was nice to be finding the middle of the face. I played pretty well today and made a couple of good putts to go along with it. When the conditions are tough like they were today, it’s nice to get a good score on the board, and hopefully I can keep it going for the rest of the weekend.”
Leishman attributes his success to his familiarity with the course, having previously competed in the Saudi International in February, where he finished T6. “I gained some confidence, learned how to play the course a bit more and how to read the greens,” he says. “They’re quite tricky greens. I think that’s a big part of success around here is reading the greens and obviously avoiding the trouble. There’s a few holes where there’s places you just can’t hit it.”
Meanwhile, last year’s champion, Brooks Koepka, experiences a more eventful round than Leishman, managing four birdies, two bogeys, and an impressive eagle at the par-4 ninth hole. Reflecting on his eagle, Koepka admits, “It went in. I don’t know what else to tell you. It went in. A little bit of luck involved for any shot to go in, but it was a good shot, too, so it was nice.”
Dustin Johnson showcases his skills with five birdies and only one bogey on the front nine, followed by a solid performance on the back nine with nine pars. Harold Varner III starts strong with five birdies in the first seven holes but falters with bogeys at Nos. 9 and 11. However, he finishes on a positive note with a birdie at No. 18.
Charles Howell III, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, and England’s Richard Bland are tied for fifth place in the 48-player field with scores of 3-under.
In the team competition, Leishman’s Ripper GC and Crushers GC hold the lead at 6-under, one stroke ahead of Fireballs GC and 4Aces GC.
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