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Stenson shares LIV lead with Reed as Mickelson has rough day

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BEDMINSTER, NJ (AP) — Henrik Stenson has made a happy return to golf after being removed from the European Ryder Cup captaincy, hitting eight birdies in his Bedminster Under 64 LIV Golf Invitational debut and tying for the lead with Patrick on 18 holes. Reid.

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Phil Mickelson’s return to the area was not entirely happy.

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As he performed at Trump’s National Bedminster, an audience member yelled, “Do it for the Saudi royal family!”

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Mickelson is very popular in the New York area, having won the PGA Championship in nearby Balthusrol and was runner-up four times at the US Open in New York. He is now credited as the top recruiter for Greg Norman and the Saudi funded LIV Golf series. He missed four months earlier this year after making disparaging remarks about the Saudis and the PGA Tour.

“I think I have always enjoyed playing in this area. We had a great day after that,” Mickelson said. “I thought it was a good day for everyone. I really didn’t think about it.”

The rest of the day didn’t get much better, especially the end. He missed a 12-foot birdie shot on his last hole and then ran a 3-foot par shot about 6 feet at the hole.

“I’ll wait,” he said, and then realizing he was the farthest from the hole, he added, “Is that still me?”

He did it for a ghostly finish and 75.

Former President Donald Trump, who played pro-am at home on Thursday, returned to watch the first round.

Stenson was one of four new players added to the 48-man field at the third LIV Golf event. He pledged full support for a European tour in March when he accepted the Ryder Cup captaincy and later signed with LIV Golf for a fee reportedly around $50 million.

The tour put him out of business last week when LIV Golf announced that he had signed a contract.

“It’s nice to play golf,” Stenson said. “And yes, of course, it’s been a busy couple of weeks and not the most fun, but we keep our heads up and focus on golf. round.

“This is the best thing I’ve played all year and I’m very grateful for it.”

Reid also had 64 points at his second LIV Golf event. His round had six birdies on seven holes during his shotgun start.

Thailand’s Fachar Kongvatmai had 66 points, while Dustin Johnson and Carlos Ortiz each had 67 points and were three shots behind.

Charles Howell III (68) and Jason Cokrach (69) also made their LIV Golf debuts, while the fourth addition, Paul Casey, had 73.

The 54-hole tournament pays out $4 million to the winner, with the top three teams competing for a $5 million prize pool.

After opening with 69 in the first LIV outside of London, Mickelson posted 75 or 76 in his next six rounds.

“Honestly, I’m just a little disappointed with my game,” Mickelson said. “It doesn’t seem so far away. I don’t feel lost, I just don’t score. I’m just frustrated because I expect more from myself. I’ll work on it until I fix it.”

On Friday, LIV Golf announced that two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson will be joining the series in 2023. Watson, who is ranked 86th in the world, is recovering from knee surgery and has said he won’t be ready to compete until October.

The series has three final events in October in Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Miami. Watson will be the non-playing team captain at the next stop outside of Boston in early September and will participate in the commentary broadcast.


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