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Rahm and Meronk’s Stellar 62 Share the Lead; Legion XIII Dominates Team Standings; Kim’s Remarkable Golf Return

Legion XIII GC Captain Jon Rahm

LIV Golf offseason signees Jon Rahm and Adrian Meronk each shot 8-under 62 to share the first-round individual lead at LIV Golf Jeddah on a day in which the most recent LIV Golf newcomer, Anthony Kim, made his official return to professional golf after nearly 12 years.

LIV Golf’s newest team, Legion XIII captained by Rahm, tops the team leaderboard at 17 under while in search of its second team title of the season after winning in their debut last month at Mayakoba.

Stinger GC is one shot back. Rahm, the reigning Masters champion, was bogey-free in his first look at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.

He’s finished top 10 in his two previous LIV Golf starts since joining in early December. “I feel like my record when I’m playing tournaments for the first time has been pretty good for some reason,” Rahm said. “Sometimes not knowing is a blessing.”

Adrian Meronk of Cleeks GC
Adrian Meronk of Cleeks GC is tied for the lead heading into round two of LIV Golf Jeddah. (Photo by Matthew Harris/LIV Golf)

Meronk played the 2020 PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens and was set to play again in 2021 until he contracted Covid.

He spent 18 days in quarantine. “That was my last memory from Saudi,” said the Polish star, who was signed by Cleeks GC prior to the season-opening tournament at Mayakoba.

Meronk suffered a bogey on his second hole but immediately bounced back with consecutive birdies. The highlight of his round was a chip-in for eagle at the par-4 10th.

He tied for ninth in Las Vegas in his last LIV Golf start. “I’m feeling way better this week than my first two weeks,” Meronk said. “… I’m happy where my game is.”

Rahm and Meronk are one stroke ahead of the trio of Torque GC Captain Joaquin Niemann, Crushers GC Captain Bryson DeChambeau and Stinger’s Charl Schwartzel, who each shot 63. Niemann beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff at Mayakoba to win for the first time since joining LIV.

He recently received a special invitation to play in the Masters and continued to make the case he’s among the hottest golfers in the world Friday with a sizzling 6 under start in his first nine holes. “It’s been good, but I just need to focus on what I have to do better,” Niemann said.

“I think if I just keep doing that, then good things are going to come from that.” DeChambeau was 1 under through his first 11 holes after suffering an early double bogey but finished with birdies on six of his last seven holes. “I finished off strong, that’s for sure,” he said.

“I needed something good after the way I started. It was fun.” Schwartzel also had an impressive bounce-back after shooting 80 in his final round in Las Vegas.

As for the 38-year-old Kim, who retired from golf in 2012 following an Achilles tendon injury, the rust was evident in his 6-over 76.

“Obviously disappointed with the score, but I played much better than the score,” Kim said. “I’ve got a lot to build on.”

Torque GC Captain Joaquín Niemann is one shot back following round one of LIV Golf Jeddah.
Torque GC Captain Joaquín Niemann is one shot back following round one of LIV Golf Jeddah. © Matthew Harris / LIV Golf)

TEAM COUNTING SCORES Standings and counting scores for Friday’s opening round of the team competition at LIV Golf Jeddah.

The three best scores from each team count in the first two rounds while all four scores count in the final round. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.

1.LEGION XIII -17 (Rahm 62, Hatton 65, Surratt 66) 2. STINGER GC -16 (Schwartzel 63, Oosthuizen 64, Burmester 67) T3. CRUSHERS GC -12 (DeChambeau 63, Howell III 67, Lahiri 68) T3. IRON HEADS GC -12 (Kozuma 65, Na 66, Vincent 67) T3. HYFLYERS GC -12 (Steele 65, Mickelson 65, Tringale 68) T6. TORQUE GC -11 (Niemann 63, Muñoz 67, Ortiz 69) T6. 4ACES GC -11 (Reed 65, Johnson 66, Perez 68) T6. CLEEKS GC -11 (Meronk 62, Bland 68, Kaymer 69) 9. SMASH GC -8 (Gooch 65, Kokrak 68, Koepka 69) 10. FIREBALLS GC -7 (Garcia 67, Puig 68, Ancer 68) 11. RIPPER GC -6 (Herbert 65, Smith 69, Jones 70) 12. MAJESTICKS GC -5 (Horsfield 68, Stenson 68, Westwood 69) 13. RANGEGOATS GC -3 (Uihlein 67, Pieters 70, Wolff 70)

Anthony Kim
Wild Card player Anthony Kim shot a 6-over 76 in his return to professional golf at LIV Golf Jeddah on Friday. © Mathew Harris/LIV Golf)


For a player who has been retired for nearly 12 years, shooting a 6-under 76 in his first round back to competitive golf shouldn’t be a surprise.

But Anthony Kim had higher expectations going into LIV Golf Jeddah. “I would be lying to say that I didn’t have certain expectations,” said Kim, who is playing as a Wild Card the rest of the season with no affiliation to any team.

“At least even if I played bad, I thought I would shoot around par. It was unfortunate that I made so many unforced errors from the middle of the fairway.

That’s generally my strength is my iron game. To make so many unforced errors is really disappointing.”

Kim found the fairway with his first tee shot, as he started his round at the par-5 18th with playing partners Graeme McDowell and Cameron Smith.

Asked to describe his emotions in hitting that first shot, Kim called it “a feeling I hadn’t felt before. I was very excited to go get it done.

The fairway looked very narrow, so to be able to hit the fairway was nice. Got off to a good start, and then made an unforced error with my second shot.

Just too many unforced errors.” One of those unforced errors came on his second shot of the day. He found the fairway with his opening drive but topped his second shot, leading to a bogey.

He followed with four consecutive pars before hitting a stretch of four bogeys sandwiched around his lone birdie. But just getting back into competitive mode was a big step forward.

“Really played better than the score,” Kim said, “and I know I can clean that up pretty quickly. … I’ve got a lot to build on, and I’m looking forward to the next two days.”

As for his first week as a member of LIV Golf, Kim called the experience “amazing.” His wife Emily and their young daughter Bella have joined him this week.

“Obviously it puts a little damper on things when you don’t play well, but as far as the experience that we’ve had and the people that are here helping us, it’s been amazing,” he said.

“Never felt anything like it, and I’m so excited to be a part of this. Look forward to being a part of this for a long time. …

“My daughter is having the best time, and that’s the most important thing.”