South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen opened with a five-under 66 to share the first-round lead at LIV Golf-Chicago on Friday. The Stinger GC captain’s bogey-free round included five birdies.
Ripper GC’s Jediah Morgan, fighting to retain his spot in the LIV Golf League, Fireballs GC Captain Sergio Garcia, Crusher GC’s Anirban Lahiri and Torque GC’s Sebastián Muñoz were also at the top of a packed leaderboard.
Two other South African Stinger GC team members, Dean Burmester and Charl Schwartzel, are among a group of 10 on four-under.
While the four other co-leaders are assured of returning to LIV Golf in 2024, the 23-year-old Morgan is one of four players currently in the drop zone who face relegation at the end of the season. He ranks 46th with just three points but a big result this week at Rich Harvest Farms could move him above the drop zone.
Non-captains ranked 45th or worse will be relegated but have a chance to play their way back in later this year at the promotion tournament.
“I know where I am and everyone keeps reminding me where I am, so it’s pretty hard to get away from it,” said Morgan, who posted the low round in the field on Sunday at the previous LIV Golf event in Bedminster last month. “So, there’s no point in me trying to act like it’s not there in my head. It’s obviously there.
“But I know if I play well enough, put myself in the position I think to make putts for birdie, then that’s really all you can do.”
Stinger GC tops the team leaderboard at 13-under and a strong finish this week could wrap up one of the top four seeds that will receive a bye at the Team Championship in Miami.
“We’re playing well,” Oosthuizen said. “We help each other out to try and get into form, and especially now with Miami around the corner, we really want to give a good push to the end.”