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LIV Golf League: Paul Casey, Harold Varner III share lead in Las Vegas with Jon Rahm five back | Golf News

Paul Casey made a strong start to his bid for a maiden LIV Golf League title after grabbing a share of the early lead after the opening round in Las Vegas.

The Englishman mixed eight birdies with a lone bogey in chilly conditions at Las Vegas Country Club to top the leaderboard with American Harold Varner III.

Starting at the eighth hole, Casey made a three-putt bogey at the par-four 10th but followed four birdies in a five-hole stretch from the 12th with back-to-back gains around the turn, then added two more over his final three holes.

Paul Casey of Crushers GC hits his shot from the 12th tee during the first round of the LIV Golf Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Country Club on Thursday, February 08, 2024 in Las Vegas, United States. (Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via AP)
Casey made six birdies in an eight-hole stretch during his opening round

Casey’s 63 ties for his lowest score in 52 career regular-season rounds on LIV Golf and comes after a disappointing 2023 season, where he battled form and fitness as he failed to register a top-20 finish.

“I’ve been working on the game very hard through the wintertime and had a decent result last week in Mayakoba (T-11),” Casey said. “I just felt like I started to build some confidence out there and it felt kind of vintage stuff.”

Varner finished bottom of the 52-man field in last week’s season opener in Mayakoba before bouncing back in Las Vegas, carding seven birdies in a bogey-free start to set the early pace with Casey.

“I got some good work in with (instructor) Butch (Harmon),” Varner said. “That guy has been really good for me, so I saw him on whatever day and just worked on getting the ball going one direction, and obviously it paid off pretty well.”

Jason Kokrak and a trio of RangeGoats GC players – captain Bubba Watson, Thomas Pieters and new acquisition Matthew Wolff – share third spot on five under, with Talor Gooch one of three players a further shot back.

Captain Bubba Watson of RangeGoats GC hits his shot from the third tee during the first round of the LIV Golf Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Country Club on Thursday, February 08, 2024 in Las Vegas, United States. (Photo by Jon Ferrey/LIV Golf via AP)
Bubba Watson is one of four players sharing third after the opening round

Graeme McDowell is also on four under and Dustin Johnson is in the group four off the pace that contains Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Smith, Tyrrell Hatton and Adrian Meronk.

Reigning major champions Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka, along with last week’s Mayakoba winner Joaquin Niemann, all opened with two-under 68s.

This week’s LIV Golf action will finish on Saturday to avoid clashing with the Super Bowl, taking place in the same city on Sunday. Watch Super Bowl LVIII from Las Vegas live on Sky Sports on Sunday February 11, with build-up from 10pm ahead of kick-off at 11.30pm; Stream the NFL and more with NOW.

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