BEDMINSTER, NJ — Henrik Stenson could get used to this whole LIV Golf thing.
In his debut with the upstart series led by Greg Norman and backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the 46-year-old Swede sits tied for first with Patrick Reed after the pair each shot opening rounds of 7-under 64 at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. After a hectic couple of weeks where the five-time member of Team Europe lost his Ryder Cup captaincy for the 2023 matches in Italy, Stenson is happy to be back to business on the course.
“It’s nice to be out there playing golf, and yeah, of course it’s been a busy couple of weeks and not the most fun, but we keep our head down and focus on the golf,” Stenson said after the first round on Friday. “Just very pleased to have the ability to go out there and do that and play such a solid round. It’s the best I’ve played all year, and yeah, I’ll take a lot of credit from that.”
Stenson’s first impressions for the series lived up to the expectations he had set coming in to the week, adding with a smile, “If I continue to shoot 7-under it’s going to be a good one.”
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Fellow rookie Charles Howell III couldn’t help but agree.
“Well, all the feedback I got from multiple players, managers, etc., was just this, it was fun, the music playing, I really liked that,” said Howell, who sits T-6 and 3 under. “I play a lot of professional events, never played with that. It was actually really fun.
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“It was relaxed, but the golf course is challenging and tough. It’s not exactly relaxing for us standing up here,” he quipped to the media, “but no, listen, it was wonderful. Once we started it was a golf tournament again on a hard golf course.”
Two other players made their debut this week in New Jersey, with Jason Kokrak T-10 at 2 under and Paul Casey a bit further back 1 over, T-31.
Phachara Khongwatmai is third at 5 under, followed by Dustin Johnson and Carlos Ortiz, who are T-4 at 4 under. On the team leaderboard, Johnson’s 4 Aces hold a slim, one-shot lead over Lee Westwood’s Majesticks at 11 under, with Kevin Na’s Iron Heads five shots back at 6 under.
Story originally appeared on GolfWeek