Former President Donald Trump played another round at his home course in Bedminster, N.J., Thursday, this one different from so many others. He was part of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational pro-am, put on by a breakaway league he says is creating a “gold rush” for players.
The third LIV Golf event, which starts Friday at Trump National Bedminster, added four new players to the 48-man field that illustrated how the disruption goes beyond the PGA Tour.
Henrik Stenson of Sweden is among the newcomers, which led the European tour to strip him of the Ryder Cup captaincy for the 2023 matches in Italy.
Stenson was made aware during his news conference of a report in The Daily Telegraph, later matched by Golf Digest, that Luke Donald would be Europe’s captain.
“I don’t feel like I’ve given it up,” Stenson said. “I made every arrangement possible here to be able to fulfill my captain’s duties, and I’ve had great help here from LIV to be able to do that. And still, the decision was made that I was to be removed. I’m obviously disappointed over the situation. But it is what it is, and yeah, we move on from there now.”
By adding Stenson — the other three were Paul Casey, Charles Howell III, and Jason Kokrak — LIV Golf now has 12 former major champions on its roster, though only five among the top 50 in the world ranking.
“You have really the best players in the world, many of the best players, and soon you’ll probably have all of them,” said Trump, who played in the pro-am with Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, along with his son Eric.
Backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, LIV Golf has been awarding massive money — various reports put total signing fees at around $1 billion so far. The PGA Tour has suspended players who join for violating regulations that require a release to play overseas. It does not grant releases for tournaments held in North America.
PGA — Tony Finau, coming off his third career victory on the PGA Tour, and Taylor Pendrith shared the first-round lead at 8-under 64 in the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Former US Open champion Webb Simpson, Michael Thompson, Cameron Champ, Lee Hodge, and Matt Wallace were two shots back at Detroit Golf Club.
Finau opened with a birdie and had five birdies on his front nine. After cooling off with four straight pars, Finau closed with his seventh and eighth birdies in a bogey-free round. He hit all 18 greens in regulation for the first time in 728 PGA Tour stroke-play rounds.
“Do the math, I missed 10 putts,” he said. “Obviously, 64′s a very good round, but this is a golf course where a lot of guys are going to make birdies.”
Pendrith, a 31-year-old PGA Tour rookie, surged into a share of the lead with five birdies in a seven-hole stretch on his back nine.
Pendrith is atop a leaderboard for the first time on the PGA Tour following an opening round.
LPGA — Scoring was low on day one of the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links. LPGA Tour rookie Hye-Jin Choi led the way, firing an 8-under 64 in the mild, morning conditions, tying the course record set by Rafa Cabrera Bello on the DP World Tour in the final round of the Genesis Scottish Open in 2017. Choi carded seven birdies, one eagle, and one bogey to tie her career-low round on the LPGA Tour and leads by just a single shot.
“Today I had really good shots overall. But more than my shots, my putter was very good so I had a lot of chances,” said Choi, who needed only 27 putts to get the job done. A trio of players sit in a tie for second after opening with matching 65s. Seventeen-time LPGA Tour winner Lydia Ko went bogey-free for the 11th time this season.Celine Boutier came to Dundonald Links off a missed cut at the Amundi Evian Championship in her home country of France, but bounced back in Scotland with a first-round bogey-free 65. Lilia Vu carded one bogey and eight birdies en route to tying her career-low round on the LPGA Tour.
European — Sean Crocker shot a course-record 9-under 63 to lead by one shot after the first round of the Hero Open on the European tour. It was the American’s lowest round on the tour, featuring eight birdies and an eagle at Fairmont St. Andrews — just up the road from the storied Old Course where the British Open was held two weeks ago.
US Junior Amateur — Wellesley’s John Broderick lost, 5 and 3, to Wenyi Ding of the People’s Republic of China in the Round of 16 of the 74th US Junior Amateur at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore.