Rahm’s Legion XIII claim team competition, Burmester wins individual title at LIV Golf Miami

Legion XIII Captain Jon Rahm looks to defend his Masters title this week after finishing tied-fourth in the individual standings at LIV GGolf Miami (Chris Trotman/LIV Golf)
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Updated 09 April 2024
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Rahm’s Legion XIII claim team competition, Burmester wins individual title at LIV Golf Miami

  • Rahm hails ‘great week’ in Florida as he prepares to start his Master’s title defense on Thursday

MIAMI: Defending Masters champion Jon Rahm and Legion XIII teammate Tyrrell Hatton will head to Augusta National this week after celebrating their second LIV Golf team victory of the season.

Stinger GC’s Dean Burmester is not in the field for the year’s first major, but he made a bold statement Sunday on one of golf’s toughest courses.

Rahm and his expansion team survived a rollercoaster final round to win the team title at LIV Golf Miami by one shot over RangeGoats GC. It is a distinctive start to his Masters title defense, which begins on Thursday with 13 LIV Golf players in the field.

“It was a great week,” said Rahm, who tied for fourth in the individual competition as he remained the only player this season with top 10s in each of the first five starts. “Hopefully I can keep doing all the good things I’ve done this week next week and avoid a couple of silly mistakes and hopefully go back-to-back.”

One player he will not see next week is Burmester, who beat Sergio Garcia on the second playoff hole at Trump National Doral with a par. During the offseason, Burmester won back-to-back events back home in South Africa — including the South African Open — and now has his first LIV Golf victory as he continues to showcase his world-class talent. He finished T3 in the LIV Golf season opener at Mayakoba.

“Probably the best golf of my career,” Burmester said. “If I look at it that way, the amount of wins, the amount of top 10s, tops 5s that I’m producing is some really special stuff.”

It was made even more special on a Blue Monster course that remains one of the most demanding tests in pro golf.

Garcia, the Fireballs GC captain, entered the day with a two-shot lead but was eventually caught by multiple players. At one point on the back nine, five players — Burmester, his Stinger captain Louis Oosthuizen, Garcia, Hatton and Matthew Wolff — shared the lead.

Burmester grabbed the solo lead with a birdie at the drivable 16th but bogeyed the difficult par-4 18th after an errant drive. Meanwhile, Garcia grabbed the lead with a 40-footer birdie putt at 17, but he three-putted the 18th to fall back into a tie and force the playoff.

After matching pars on the first playoff hole, Garcia found the water with his approach shot at the 18th while Burmester safely landed on the green for a two-putt par to win.

“This is a monster of a place and it’s hosted so many great championships over the years,” Burmester said. “Now it’s hosting us, and I feel privileged to have won here.”

Garcia, who has played more than 50 competitive rounds on the Blue Monster, lost for the third time in a LIV Golf playoff. He went four holes against Joaquin Niemann at Mayakoba and also lost last year in Singapore to Talor Gooch.

“Obviously when you’re that close, you want to win it,” Garcia said. “Unfortunately, that only happens to one guy, and it wasn’t meant to be me.”

Legion XIII was led by Rahm’s 3-under 69, with Caleb Surratt contributing a 70, Hatton a 71 and Kieran Vincent a 77 to finish at 1 under for the day and 22 under for the week. They were in command for a large part of the day until Hatton started struggling off the tee, while Vincent hit a rough patch with four consecutive bogeys.

“I decided to stick it in reverse standing on the 10th tee and just carried on going that way and just navigate myself through the back nine looking backwards,” Hatton said. “Made it a lot harder for the team, and it was a pretty miserable 2-1/2 hours, to be honest.”

It ended with a champagne celebration.

“I knew we would find our stride at some point,” Rahm said. “It was definitely a surprise to end up winning the first week, and I would say it was no surprise that we ended up winning this week.”

Team scores

Standings and counting scores for Sunday’s final round of the team competition at LIV Golf Miami. 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 -22 (Rahm 69, Surratt 70, Hatton 71, Vincent 77; Rd. 3 score: -1)

 
2. RANGEGOATS GC -21 (Wolff 69, Pieters 69, Uihlein 73, Watson 74; Rd. 3 score: -3)

 
3. STINGER GC -15 (Burmester 68, Oosthuizen 71, Grace 72, Schwartzel 75; Rd. 3 score: -2)

 
T4. TORQUE GC -13 (Munoz 68, Ortiz 68, Niemann 70, Pereira 78; Rd. 3 score: -4)

 
T4. FIREBALLS GC -13 (Ancer 68, Garcia 70, Puig 71, Chacarra 76; Rd. 3 score: -3)

 
6. CRUSHERS GC -11 (DeChambeau 68, Casey 69, Howell III 70, Lahiri 77; Rd. 3 score: -4)

 
7. SMASH GC -7 (Kokrak 68, McDowell 70, Gooch 73, Koepka 77; Rd. 3 score: E)

 
8. 4ACES GC -5 (Varner III 70, Reed 72, Johnson 74, Perez 76; Rd. 3 score: +4)

 
9. CLEEKS GC E (Bland 73, Meronk 74, Kaymer 76, Samooja 77; Rd. 3 score: +12)

 
10. RIPPER GC +4 (Jones 69, Leishman 69, Campbell 73, Herbert 81; Rd. 3 score: +4)

 
11. IRONHEADS GC +5 (Vincent 72, Lee 72, Na 73, Kozuma 76; Rd. 3 score: +5)

 
T12. MAJESTICKS GC +6 (Poulter 71, Stenson 73, Westwood 73, Horsfield 73; Rd. 3 score: +2)

 
T12. HYFLYERS GC +6 (Tringale 71, Steele 72, Ogletree 75, Mickelson 76; Rd. 3 score: +6)


Hatton leads by 3, DeChambeau lurks, Rahm’s Legion XIII grab team lead at LIV Golf Nashville

Updated 23 June 2024
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Hatton leads by 3, DeChambeau lurks, Rahm’s Legion XIII grab team lead at LIV Golf Nashville

  • Hatton birdied six of his final seven holes at The Grove en route to a bogey-free 7-under 64
  • With Legion XIII leading the team competition by five strokes over the Crushers, plenty of hardware is up for grabs among the top four players

COLLEGE GROVE, Tennessee: After a frustrating early string of nine consecutive pars, Tyrrell Hatton found another gear down the stretch in Saturday’s second round of LIV Golf Nashville.

As a result, the Legion XIII star is 18 holes away from his first individual title since joining LIV Golf.But first, he will have to hold off his closest pursuers, including a reserve player seeking a storybook result, and a couple of two-time major winners — including last week’s US Open champion.Hatton birdied six of his final seven holes at The Grove en route to a bogey-free 7-under 64.

His two-day total of 13 under leaves him three strokes ahead of Crushers GC’s John Catlin, the replacement for the injured Charles Howell III. Their captains — the Crushers’ Bryson DeChambeau and Legion XIII’s Jon Rahm, two of LIV Golf’s biggest stars — are another stroke back, tied for third at 9 under.

With Legion XIII leading the team competition by five strokes over the Crushers, plenty of hardware is up for grabs among the top four players. “I’ll probably be a little bit nervous tomorrow, but I’d say that’s a good thing,” said Hatton, whose last professional title was in 2021. “Obviously if you’re nervous about something, you genuinely care about it.”

The individual leaderboard was packed for the first half of Saturday— at one point, more than 30 players were within four shots of the lead. But then Hatton went on a birdie binge that included a chip-in at the par-3 13th, followed by a 30-foot putt on the 14th.

“Around this golf course, if you hit the ball good, you’re going to have a lot of opportunities for birdie,” said Hatton, who joined LIV Golf in the offseason to play for Rahm’s expansion team. “You don’t want to be making too many pars. It was kind of OK in the end, but I guess tomorrow I wouldn’t want to be stringing 10 pars in a row, obviously, when you’re being chased.”

Catlin shot his second consecutive 66, playing his final nine holes in a bogey-free 4 under. Having competed on multiple tours across the globe and with 13 professional wins, Catlin welcomes the opportunity to write his own Cinderella story this week. No reserve player has ever finished inside the top five of a LIV Golf tournament.

“I’ve been here before and I can honestly say I’ve won before, and I can do it again,” he said. “I’m going to go out and control what I can control, and we’ll see what happens.”

DeChambeau has battled fatigued in the whirlwind aftermath of last Sunday’s tense US Open victory at Pinehurst. He bogeyed two of his first three holes Saturday but avoided further trouble, finishing with four birdies in his last seven holes as he fed off the energy of the sold-out crowd.

“I’m proud of the way that I’ve managed my energy, although I have close to zero right now,” DeChambeau said. “… All I want is a shot on the back nine, and that back nine is gettable. Hopefully, I can get the job done tomorrow.”

Entering this week, Rahm was unsure how competitive he would be after withdrawing during the second round of LIV Golf Houston with a foot infection that forced him to miss the US Open.

After an opening 70, he produced the lowest score of the second round, an 8-under 63 that included nine birdies. That ties for his lowest round relative to par in LIV Golf.

“I needed a round like that to get close to the lead,” Rahm said. “Obviously, Tyrrell finished fantastic. Still a little bit of work to do tomorrow.”Hatton, Catlin and DeChambeau will play in the leaders’ group off the first tee, with Rahm playing with Ripper GC captain Cameron Smith and Torque GC’s Carlos Ortiz — the winner two weeks ago at LIV Golf Houston — in the earlier group that starts off the first tee at 12:05 p.m. CDT. Smith and Ortiz are tied for fifth at 8 under.

Team counting scores

Standings and counting scores for Saturday’s second round of the team competition at LIV Golf Nashville:

1. LEGION XIII -28 (Rahm 63, Hatton 64, Vincent 66; Rd. 2 score: -20)

2. CRUSHERS GC -23 (Catlin 66, DeChambeau 66, Lahiri 68; Rd. 2 score: -13)

3. MAJESTICKS GC -19 (Westwood 66, Poulter 67, Horsfield 68; Rd. 2 score: -12)

4. TORQUE GC -18 (Ortiz 66, Niemann 69, Pereira 69; Rd. 2 score: -9)

5. IRON HEADS GC -15 (Kozuma 67, Na 67, Vincent 67; Rd. 2 score: -12)

6. CLEEKS GC -14 (Meronk 66, Bland 67, Kaymer 70; Rd. 2 score: -10)

T7. SMASH GC -13 (Kokrak 65, McDowell 68, Gooch 69; Rd. 2 score: -11)

T7. STINGER GC -13 (Burmester 66, Grace 68, Oosthuizen 70; Rd. 2 score: -9)

T7. FIREBALLS GC -13 (Chacarra 70, Garcia 71, Puig 73; Rd. 2 score: +1)

10. RIPPER GC -11 (Smith 65, Leishman 69, Jones 72; Rd. 2 score: -7)

11. 4ACES GC -8 (Varner III 64, Perez 69, Reed 70; Rd. 2 score: -10)

T12. RANGEGOATS GC -6 (Wolff 67, Pieters 68, Watson 71; Rd. 2 score: -7)

T12. HYFLYERS GC -6 (Steele 67, Mickelson 70, Tringale 70; Rd. 2 score: -6)


Tom Kim clings to a 1-shot lead over Scheffler and Bhatia in rain-delayed Travelers

Updated 23 June 2024
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Tom Kim clings to a 1-shot lead over Scheffler and Bhatia in rain-delayed Travelers

  • Kim was at 18-under 192 going into the final round in which 10 players were within five shots of the lead
  • Cameron Young shot 59, the 13th sub-60 round on the PGA Tour and first in nearly four years

CROMWELL, Connecticut: Tom Kim made enough birdies on a soft, vulnerable course to stay in front Saturday in the rain-delayed Travelers Championship, getting up-and-down for par on the last hole in near darkness for a 5-under 65 and a one-shot lead over Scottie Scheffler and Akshay Bhatia.

The tone of this pitch-and-putt day at the TPC River Highlands was set long before thunderstorms halted play for nearly three hours. Cameron Young shot 59, the 13th sub-60 round on the PGA Tour and first in nearly four years.

And then the rain made it even softer, and the wind subsided late in the evening as Kim, Scheffler and Xander Schauffele raced to beat darkness.

Scheffler, the world’s No. 1 player coming off a rare pedestrian performance at the US Open, was slowed by a pair of soft bogeys — his putter from fringe on No. 11, a bad drive into mangled weeds on No. 14 — and answered with four straight birdies.

“I was pretty frustrated after that bogey on 14, felt like I was putting myself out of the tournament,” Scheffler said. “So it was nice to bounce back and finish it the way I did.”

His wedge on the 18th rolled back within an inch of the cup, which he tapped in for 64. He played with Bhatia, who has two PGA Tour titles in the last 12 months. He poured in a 25-foot birdie putt to match Scheffler at 64.

Schauffele played bogey-free until the final hole when his 3-foot par putt horseshoed around the cup and left him with a 64. He was two shots back along with Sungjae Im, who made a birdie putt from some 40 feet on the final hole.

Kim, who turned 22 on Friday, is still leading a large cast of All-Stars. He was at 18-under 192 going into the final round in which 10 players were within five shots of the lead.

“It’s a stacked leaderboard,” Kim said. “Out here, a five-, six-shot lead is not safe at all. So I’ve got to go out tomorrow and do the same game plan and execute.”

The group within five shots includes Young, who was tied for 43rd when he arrived at the course in the morning. He was 5 under through four holes — he holed out with a wedge from 142 yards on No. 3 — made another eagle on the 280-yard 15th hole with a 3-iron to 4 feet and got to 11 under with a 5-foot birdie on the 17th.

He was tied when he walked off the course and still in the mix when the round finally ended. Young didn’t see this kind of round coming.

“Did exactly what I do every day coming to the golf course — get a coffee, ate, saw the physio, and went out there, warmed up,” he said. “Didn’t feel particularly awesome. I chunked a few less on the range than I did yesterday. Then, yeah, came out and just was very comfortable and things just started coming down close to the hole.”

Tee times for Sunday have been moved forward because of more storms in the forecast, meaning the course isn’t likely to get any tougher. Preferred lies were in effect for the second consecutive round.

“Feels like more than ever you’re going to have to keep your head down,” Schauffele said. “It’s kind of been my motto — ‘Stay in my lane’ — for quite some time, and I think tomorrow it’s going to hold pretty true. You can get on a run at any point on this golf course.

“(You) definitely have to earn your birdies,” he said. “But I think they’re going to be coming in bunches tomorrow.”

Five players had at least a share of the lead at some point, some of that made possible by Kim’s lone mistake. He three-putted from 10 feet on the fourth hole, his 3-foot par putt not even touching the hole. But he bounced back with three birdies on the par 3s and a tough chip across the 15th green to set up an easy birdie.

He went from the fairway bunker to short of the 18th green, and his pitched rolled out to a short range for his final par to stay in front.

The final signature event of the PGA Tour season certainly looks like one with quality of players chasing — from Scheffler and Schauffele, down to Collin Morikawa, Shane Lowry, Patrick Cantlay and Justin Thomas.

“You’re not going to separate yourself. Someone is going to play one shot better than anyone else,” Bhatia said. “We’ll see what tomorrow entails. It’s just going to be a good challenge.”


Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville

Updated 22 June 2024
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Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville

  • With Ancer leading the way, Fireballs GC lead the team competition by four shots over DeChambeau’s Crushers GC, with Torque GC another shot back in third
  • The crowd support helped keep DeChambeau going, and he acknowledged them at every opportunity — including at the par-3 15th party hole when he made birdie, then cupped his ear to hear the fans cheer

COLLEGE GROVE: In his first round since winning the US Open, a worn-out Bryson DeChambeau continued to thrive off the energy of his growing fan base, shooting a 4-under 67 on Friday at LIV Golf Nashville.

Meanwhile, a rejuvenated Abraham Ancer continued to ride the form that’s already led to one LIV Golf victory this season, as he grabbed the first-round lead at The Grove with a bogey-free 7-under 64.
 

With Ancer leading the way, Fireballs GC lead the team competition by four shots over DeChambeau’s Crushers GC, with Torque GC another shot back in third. The Fireballs, captained by Sergio Garcia, are seeking their first team title this season after trying for second in each of the previous two tournaments.
 
Ancer opened his round with a birdie, and then took the lead on his final nine with four birdies in a five-hole stretch. He finished by getting up-and-down on his last hole to keep his scorecard clean.
 

“Extremely happy the way I fought today,” said Ancer, the winner at LIV Golf Hong Kong earlier this year in a playoff. “Even the last hole, I put myself in a tough spot and then made a longish putt for par, which was really nice. You don’t want to finish on a bogey.”

One shot back is Legion XIII’s Tyrrell Hatton, the only player this season to finish inside the top 24 in points in each of the first eight tournaments. Hatton leaned heavily on his putter during a round in which he needed just 24 putts. 

“The big thing that I was most pleased with today was just the putter,” Hatton said. “Feel like I holed out really well from inside 10 feet.”

In solo third is John Catlin, a reserve player who is filling in for injured Crushers veteran Charles Howell III for the second consecutive LIV Golf tournament. Catlin’s 5-under 66 was highlighted by a stretch of four birdies in five holes around his turn.

No reserve player has finished inside the top 5 of a LIV Golf tournament, but Catlin, a 13-time winner in his professional career and currently second in the International Series standings, is confident he can continue to make noise this week.

“I feel like if I can go out and play my game, I’m capable of anything,” he said.

DeChambeau is in a four-way tie for fourth with Torque’s Sebastián Muñoz, Fireballs’ Eugenio Chacarra and Majesticks GC’s Sam Horsfield.
 
The last few days have been a whirlwind for the Crushers captain after winning his second US Open with a clutch up-and-down on the 72nd hole at Pinehurst. A media tour in New York followed the next day before he traveled to Nashville for this week’s tournament.
 
“I’m a zombie right now. I’m a dead man walking,” he said.
 
But the crowd support Friday helped keep him going, and he acknowledged them at every opportunity — including at the par-3 15th party hole when he made birdie, then cupped his ear to hear the fans cheer.
 
“It’s quite an honor to be out here and have so much support,” DeChambeau said. “It’s fantastic. This is what LIV is all about.”

Team counting scores

Standings and counting scores for Friday’s opening round of the team competition at LIV Golf Nashville:

 

1. FIREBALLS GC -14 (Ancer 64, Chacarra 67, Garcia 68)

 

2. CRUSHERS GC -10 (Catlin 66, DeChambeau 67, Casey 70)

 

3. TORQUE GC -9 (Muñoz 67, Ortiz 68, Pereira 69)

 

4. LEGION XIII -8 (Hatton 65, Rahm 70, Surratt 70)

 

5. MAJESTICKS GC -7 (Horsfield 67, Westwood 69, Stenson 70)

 

T6. STINGER GC -4 (Schwartzel 69, Burmester 70, Oosthuizen 70)

 

T6. RIPPER GC -4 (Leishman 69, Smith 69, Jones 71)

 

T6. CLEEKS GC -4 (Kaymer 68, Bland 70, Samooja 71)

 

9. IRON HEADS GC -3 (Na 69, Vincent 69, Kozuma 72)

 

10. SMASH GC -2 (Koepka 69, Kokrak 71, Gooch 71)

 

11. HYFLYERS GC E (Mickelson 70, Steele 71, Ogletree 72)

 

12. RANGEGOATS GC +1 (Watson 70, Wolff 72, Uihlein 72)

 

13. 4ACES GC +2 (Varner III 71, Reed 72, Perez 72)


Tom Kim builds a 2-shot lead over Scheffler and Morikawa at Travelers Championship

Updated 22 June 2024
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Tom Kim builds a 2-shot lead over Scheffler and Morikawa at Travelers Championship

  • Kim already is a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, though he has only one top 10 in his last 19 starts worldwide
  • Morikawa, like Kim, did most of his work on the front nine by rolling six birdie putts

CROMWELL, Connecticut: Tom Kim is looking at the long term with his golf game and is getting short-term results at the Travelers Championship, where he followed an opening 62 with a 5-under 65 on Friday for the lowest 36-hole score of his career and a two-shot lead.
Kim had to settle for eight straight pars on the soggy TPC River Highlands and still finished at 13-under 127, two shots ahead of a group that includes Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa.
Scheffler, coming off his first middle-of-the-road performance of the year at the US Open, had to wait through a storm delay of more than three hours to finish his last two holes. He made an 8-foot birdie on the 18th for a 64.
Morikawa (63) and Akshay Bhatia (65), who also was two behind, finished before the storms.
Kim and Scheffler both celebrated birthdays during the second round — Kim is 22 and Scheffler is 28 — and did their birthday damage earlier in the week with a trip to one of the Connecticut’s best known pizza joints.
Kim already is a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, though he has only one top 10 in his last 19 starts worldwide since his victory in Las Vegas last fall.
“I think the work I’ve been doing has ... the past few months it’s just been kind of like making sure that I feel confident out in the competition, not practice rounds,” Kim said. “So I think this stretch is making me sharper and more ready and I think it’s kind of time to show.”
There certainly should be no rust for the 22-year-old Kim. He has not missed a tournament dating to the Byron Nelson, making this his eighth consecutive tournament.
Scheffler tied for 41st last week in the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2, a course he never quite figured out. It was the first time since the fall of 2022 that he was outside the top 40.
He looks like the No. 1 player this week, missing only one fairway and one green in the second round. That was key to scoring because officials allowed players to lift, clean and place their golf balls provided they were in the short grass.
“Definitely better than last week,” Scheffler said. “I felt like I found a little stuff in my swing and feel like I’m seeing the breaks a lot better on these greens. Definitely feeling some good momentum from the last two days.”
Scheffler birdied four of his last six holes, the final two after the rain delay. He left his approach below the hole on the 18th to set up his final birdie.
Morikawa, like Kim, did most of his work on the front nine by rolling six birdie putts. He picked up his final birdie on the par-3 16th and will be in the final group with Kim on Saturday.
Morikawa, a two-time major champion, has been getting himself in the mix at the some of the bigger events over the past few months. He played in the last group at the Masters and the PGA Championship until falling back.
This round was largely about putting. Morikawa made a pair of birdies from the 15-foot range early punctuated by a 30-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole. His swing looks to be back to be as consistent as ever.
“I know where the ball’s going, so that helps,” Morikawa said. “Obviously, I want to be able to get the win and that’s kind of what’s stopping me from being on a great run. It’s a big mental mindset. When you know where the ball’s going it’s a lot easier to play golf, and I’ve kind of been able to trust that.”
PGA champion Xander Schauffele had another 65 and was alone in fifth place, three shots behind. Another shot back were Shane Lowry (62) and Justin Thomas (63).
Lowry hit a magnificent approach with a 5-wood on the par-5 13 and rolled in the long birdie. That put him at 8-under par for the day, with a couple of good birdie chances on the in. But the Irishman had a couple of pedestrian wedges — from the fairway, one a pitch — for pars.
And then the horn sounded to stop play, and Lowry had to settle for three pars.
Thomas, who chipped in for eagle on the 13th, had his lowest score since a 61 in The American Express in the California desert to start the year.
The signature event has no cut — the field is 70 players — and a $20 million purse.
 


Lexi Thompson shoots 68 to take 1st-round lead at the Women’s PGA Championship

Updated 21 June 2024
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Lexi Thompson shoots 68 to take 1st-round lead at the Women’s PGA Championship

  • Thompson made six birdies on her way to a one-shot lead over Nelly Korda and Patty Tavatanakit
  • She won the last of her 11 LPGA Tour titles at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June 2019

SAMMAMISH: Lexi Thompson knew some form of the question was coming after shooting a 4-under 68 and taking the first-round lead Thursday in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Would a major title change her plans about retiring from playing full-time on the LPGA Tour?

“I’m just taking it one day at a time. I made my announcement. I’m very content with it,” Thompson said. “Golf is a crazy game, so I’m not going to look too far ahead.”

Thompson made six birdies on her way to a one-shot lead over Nelly Korda and Patty Tavatanakit.

Teeing off in the afternoon as temperatures climbed into the 80s and dried out Sahalee Country Club, Thompson started hot with three straight birdies to open her round and built on last week when she lost in a playoff at the Meijer LPGA Classic.

The 29-year-old Thompson, who recently announced her plans to retire after the season, shot a bogey-free 32 on the front nine, capped with a 6-foot birdie on the par-3 ninth. After a bogey at No. 10, Thompson rebounded with birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 before another bogey at the 16th.

She won the last of her 11 LPGA Tour titles at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June 2019. The 68 is her lowest round in a major since a 67 in the second round of the Women’s PGA two years ago at Congressional.

“My approach shots felt great,” Thompson said. “They felt really good last week, so just trying to simplify things and get in a rhythm with my swing.”

Korda shot 69 in the morning, and Tavatanakit matched it in the afternoon with a bogey-free round.

The top-ranked Korda missed the cuts in the US Women’s Open and the Meijer LPGA Classic in her last two starts after winning six of seven events, a run that started with a record-tying five straight victories.

Korda started on the back nine and made four birdies on her first five holes. But parts of the morning were a scramble for Korda as the Douglass fir, red cedar and hemlock trees of Sahalee played their role in making it a challenge. A double bogey on the par-4 fourth hole dropped her back to 2 under.

“If you try and be aggressive when you’ve hit it off line, it just bites you in the butt,” Korda said. “Overall, I think I played pretty well. I took my chances where I could and I played safe the majority of the round.”

Korda made a 15-foot putt on the par-3 ninth hole — her final hole — to take the early lead.

There was another group of players at 2 under, including Allizen Corpuz, Celine Boutier, Charley Hull and Leona Maguire. Maguire led this tournament after the third round last year at Baltusrol, but shot 74 on the final day and finished four shots back of the winner, Ruoning Yin.

Playing with Korda, Yin rebounded from a rough start and shot 33 on her second nine to shoot 71.

“Luckily hit it pretty straight today. Hit a lot of fairways and greens. But it does feel like a course where once you’re out of position it’s tough to get back on track,” said Corpuz, who has an outside chance of making the Olympics for the United States with a strong finish this week.

The third major of the year on the LPGA Tour returned to Sahalee, which previously hosted in 2016. And the tree-lined course showed its difficulty.

Lilia Vu, who won last week in her return from a back injury, shot 75. Yuka Saso, the US Open winner three weeks ago, made four consecutive bogeys on the back nine and finished at 2-over 74. Brooke Henderson, who won in 2016, shot 73.

Korda got off to a far better start than her last major, when she shot 80 in the opening round of the US Women’s Open three weeks ago.

Korda’s early run of birdies included three straight between Nos. 13-15 and she and went out in 33. She moved to 4 under after a birdie on the third hole — her 12th of the day — but dropped two shots on the fourth.

“This entire golf course is so demanding,” Korda said. “I had to make some pretty good up-and-downs.”