Brooks Koepka shot a bogey-free 8-under 62 to take a two-shot lead after one round of Friday’s LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
Koepka, who last won a golf event in February 2021 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, carded eight birdies at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club to lead South African Charl Schwartzel (64) by two.
The four-time great champion’s form dropped because he had multiple injuries. He finished no better than 55th at the major this year, with two missed cuts.
“This is the first time I’ve played back-to-back weeks since February. It’s so hard to build a rhythm,” Koepka said. “I could see it coming. I’m very happy with that, happy with last week, and you know, hopefully I just put together two more good rounds.”
Koepka started the round on the 15th and made his first two birdies on No. 16 and 17. He picked up five birdies over the front nine on the course, dropping the eighth on the par-4 10th. He just missed a birdie putt on his final hole that would have given him the lowest single-round score in LIV’s short history.
His 62 tied him with England’s Lee Westwood, who shot a round of 62 in Boston.
Schwartzel, winner of LIV’s debut event in London, matched Koepka’s eight birdies but also had two bogeys.
Japan’s Hideto Tanihara, Peter Uihlein and Patrick Reed were tied for third with 5-under 65. Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz, Turk Pettit and James Piot shot rounds of 4-under 66 to tie for sixth. Westwood, Spain’s Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson were all part of a big tie for ninth place at 3-under 67.
On the team leaderboard, Koepka’s Team Smash is 15 under and has a healthy five-shot lead over three other teams. In addition to Koepka and his brother Chase Koepka, Smash features Uihlein and Jason Kokrak.
While LIV Golf is widely known for being funded by Saudi fans, this is the first LIV tournament to be held in Saudi Arabia. It is the final tournament of the regular season before the team championships later this month in Miami.
– Media in the field