Harold Varner III sinks two eagles to take LIV lead
Harold Varner III made two eagles en route to an 8-under-par 64 to take the first-round lead in the LIV Golf event at Trump National Golf Club.
Varner is two clear of James Piot, with a group tied for third at 4-under 68 featuring Cameron Smith of Australia, Mito Pereira of Chile, Kevin Na and Andy Ogletree.
Varner opened his round with a bogey at the par-3 fourth hole but shrugged it off quickly. After a birdie brought him back to even, he made an eagle two at the 317-yard, par-4 ninth hole.
His second eagle came four holes later at the par-5 13th. He followed that with two birdies for a 4-under run in three holes. He picked up birdies at the final two par-5s - Nos.18 and 3 - to set the pace.
Varner, 32, is seeking his first win on the Saudi-funded LIV circuit. He has had a fine career thus far and tied for 29th at both the Masters and the PGA Championship this season, but his last win came in February 2022 at the Saudi International on the Asian Tour.
Piot and Ogletree are former US Amateur winners among the younger pros hoping to make a mark in the PGA Tour's upstart rival league. Piot had seven birdies and one bogey Friday, while Ogletree had five birdies and one bogey.
Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed were among the names tied at 3-under 69. Bryson DeChambeau and Spain's Sergio Garcia, among others, shot 2-under 70.
Brooks Koepka, coming off his fifth career major title on Sunday at the PGA Championship, opened with an even-par 72.
Phil Mickelson is in 44th place after an opening 2-over 74.
Varner's RangeGoats GC are tied with Iron Heads GC for the lead in the team competition at 10 under.
Varner, Talor Gooch (70) and Belgium's Thomas Pieters (72) had their scores count for RangeGoats, while Iron Heads were fuelled by captain Na, Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe (69) and Danny Lee of New Zealand (69).
Australians Smith, Matt Jones (73) and Marc Leishman (73) representing Ripper are eight shots behind the leaders.