Written by
LIV Golf Staff
Apr 26 2024
- 4 MIN
Cam Shrug

The LIV Golf League is back Down Under for LIV Golf Adelaide, and while Jinichiro Kozuma has grabbed the opening round lead, there are plenty of other news, notes and stats from Round 1 Down Under.

FULL FIRST-ROUND RECAP: Kozuma shoots 63 to lead; Torque tops team leaderboard

RIPPERS IN STRIKING POSITION: Ripper GC, the all-Australian team captained by Cameron Smith, finished a disappointing eighth last year at LIV Golf Adelaide.

They entered this week’s return to The Grange Golf Club in much better shape to handle the demands of being the hometown favorites.

It showed on Friday with a counting score of 15 under that left them in fifth place in the team standings after the first round and in striking distance behind Torque GC, which leads at 20 under.

“I think we came in a little more relaxed this year,” said Matt Jones, who shot a team-best 6-under 66 on Friday. “I know last year we all wanted to play well, and we didn't, and I think this year we're a little more relaxed and just let the golf course come to us and not try and push anything and just play our game.”

Marc Leishman, who contributed a 5-under 67, said he took a different approach in navigating The Grange.

“I changed my course management a little bit this year compared to last year,” Leishman said. “I was a bit too conservative, I think, and changed that because there are so many birdies out there.”

ORTIZ FINDING HIS GROOVE: Carlos Ortiz joined Torque GC during the offseason, but his first two starts produced lackluster finishes of T43 at Mayakoba and T39 in Las Vegas. But in the last three starts, he has one top-5 and two other top-15 finishes – and now in Adelaide he’s just one shot off the lead after an opening 8-under 64.

“I was definitely a little bit rusty the first two tournaments,” Ortiz said. “But I actually feel like I was in good form; I was just not in play form. I don't know if that explains it. But I feel great. I feel like I'm trending. I feel like my game is in a great spot right now.”

LEE SWITCHES TO SHORTER PUTTER: Danny Lee had been using a long-handle broomstick-style putter, but he switched to a shorter putter for LIV Golf Adelaide.

He said the biggest difference in his improved play on the greens Friday, however, is due to some intense – and lengthy – practice sessions during the off-weeks since the previous LIV Golf tournament in Miami.

“Even before I came here, even during the practice rounds, I was making a lot of good putts and a lot of solid 20-footers, inside 20-footers, and making a lot of good short putts, too,” Lee said.

“My confidence was there, and I've just got to believe in myself and just do it during the tournament rounds, and I did it today, and hopefully this thing never goes away.”

RAHM BACK IN AUSTRALIA: Legion XIII Captain Jon Rahm is playing in Australia for just the second time in his career. His first appearance came 8 years ago at the 2016 World Cup of Golf, where he and fellow Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello finished eighth as a team at Kingston Heath in Melbourne.

Rahm shot a 5-under 67 on Friday that included five birdies in a six-hole stretch, back-to-back bogeys, and then two birdies to finish his round. He’s tied for 10th.

WATERING HOLE STATISTICS: The par-3 12th, otherwise known at The Watering Hole, played to a stroke average of 2.981 in the first round. Ten birdies were recorded, with Legion XIII’s Tyrrell Hatton and Majesticks GC Co-Captain Henrik Stenson each nearly producing a hole-in-one. Seven bogeys and one double bogey were also recorded.

BEST ROUND 1 SCORE: Torque GC’s 20-under counting score Friday is the best opening round by any team this season. The previous best in 2024 was the 17-under total shot by Legion XIII in the first round in Jeddah.

BLACK RIBBONS IN RD. 1: Black ribbons were worn by LIV Golf players, caddies and support staff in memory of veteran clubmaker and club fitter Rusty Estes, who recently passed away. Estes worked with thousands of professional players, and was especially close with Crushers GC’s Anirban Lahiri, who posted a tribute on his Instagram account a few days ago. “No club that I ever hold will feel the same,” Lahiri wrote. “Thank you for being a friend, teacher and partner in crime.”

In addition, the ribbons were also worn in remembrance of the recent tragedy in Bondi Junction near Sydney in which six people were killed in a stabbing attack at a local shopping center.


Driving accuracy: Anirban Lahiri, 92.86.% (13 of 14 fairways hit)

Driving distance: Lucas Herbert, 323.0 yards avg.

Longest drive: David Puig, 338.3 yards, 17th hole

Greens in regulation: Danny Lee, Dean Burmester, Marc Leishman, Paul Casey, Cameron Tringale, Brooks Koepka, Matthew Wolff, 88.89% (16 of 18 greens)

Scrambling: Cameron Smith (5 of 5), Jinichiro Kozuma (4 of 4), Mito Pereira (3 of 3), Anirban Lahiri (3 of 3), Marc Leishman (2 of 2), Paul Casey (2 of 2), Brooks Koepka (2 of 2), 100%

Putting: Joaquin Niemann, 1.22 putts per hole

Bogey-free rounds: Jinichiro Kozuma (63), Mito Pereira (65), Anirban Lahiri (65), Marc Leishman (67), Cameron Smith (68)

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