Four-Way Tie at LIV Golf Houston as Patrick Reed Aims for Victory

Anirban Lahiri mixed five birdies with two dropped shots on his way to a 36-hole total of 6 under par 138 and a share of 13th place four shots behind a four-way tie for the lead at LIV Golf Houston on Saturday. With event co-leader and fellow Crushers GC member on 10 under 134 and captain Bryson DeChambeau adding a 139, the 2023 champions were tied for third place in the team event on 21 under for two days along with the Cleeks and the 4Aces, four shots behind Fireballs GC (26 under) and second-placed Torque GC (22 under).

On the individual leaderboard, Casey shared top spot with David Puig of the Fireballs, Torque’s Carlos Ortiz and Adrian Meronk of Cleeks GC, while Houston resident Patrick Reed, who has never won in his home town, held sole possession of fifth place on 9 under 135 and all to play for. In fact, as many as 12 players were within three shots of the leaders, holding out the promise of a Texas shootout on Sunday at the Golf Club of Houston, LIV Golf said.

“Having all that support and also being able to stay at home, it means a lot,” Reed said. “Hopefully we go out there and … give them a show tomorrow and hopefully hoist that trophy.” Reed was one of LIV Golf’s top final-round performers in the first two seasons but has struggled on Sundays this year. “There’s times that I’ve been so far back and trying to get a decent finish that I’ve had to push, and when you go out there and you press, it usually doesn’t happen in golf,” the Texan said. “You’ve got to let it come to you, and I feel like that’s what I’m trying to do this week.”

But he will first need to get past the group of four that are ahead of him, at least two of whom – Casey with the 2009 Houston Open and Ortiz in 2020 – are past winners in Space City. In sixth place, Torque GC captain Joaquin Niemann and Matthew Wolff of the RangeGoats were on 8 under 136 with five more tied on 7 under 137. Of the 12 only Niemann is a past LIV Golf tournament – twice, in fact, earlier this year at Mayakoba and Jeddah.

In the team standings, Puig and Abraham Ancer powered the Fireballs into top spot ahead of Neimann’s Torque with the Crushers, 4Aces and Cleeks all jostling for a shot at top honours on Sunday. The seventh event on the schedule, LIV Golf Houston was hit by two captains withdrawing from competition on day two. Jon Rahm of Legion XIII and Louis Oosthuizen of Stinger GC ruled themselves out, with the latter pulling out even before the start with a lower back injury. He was replaced by reserve player Wade Ormsby, who shot a 1-over 73 that counted for the team. Oosthuizen shot an opening round 3-under 69. Rahm withdrew after playing six holes on Saturday with an infection in his left foot. He will be replaced by reserve player Ben Campbell for Sunday’s final round. Rahm also shot a 69 in the opening round. Both are expected to return for the next LIV Golf tournament in Nashville from June 21 to 23 and Rahm remains scheduled to play next week’s US Open.

Casey, who shot a second consecutive 67 on Saturday, isn’t sure how much his success 15 years ago will impact the final outcome. He’s one of five players in the field who have won at the Golf Club of Houston. “I know what it takes, but it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier,” the smooth-swinging Englishman pointed out. “This has always been a tough test of golf. … This golf course has teeth, and just because I’ve won doesn’t change anything.”

Ortiz, who birdied four consecutive holes Saturday enroute to a 68, doesn’t anticipate benefiting from his experience but admitted to having a certain comfort level at the venue. “I like the golf course and the people,” he said. “I guess maybe that’s the confidence. I don’t know, but I’ve been playing really good, and I think it’s just reflecting now.”

Meronk was one of three first-round co-leaders with his captain Martin Kaymer and young Legion XIII player Caleb Surratt. While Kaymer and Surrat have fallen off the pace, Meronk overcame two bogeys in his first five holes to shoot a 69 and keep himself in the hunt. “Played quite solid,” said Meronk, who joined LIV Golf just before the start of this season. “Could have been much lower. Missed a couple of putts coming down the stretch. But still pretty pleased with my round and my position going into Sunday.”

Of his team’s chances of topping the event on Sunday, the lanky Polish player added, “I think you can see the progress from the beginning of the year. Hopefully we can lift the trophy soon; “When, I cannot tell you. Depends on many factors. But the chemistry and level of play, it’s progressing from week to week. We can just hope to play well tomorrow. It’s going to be exciting. Every score counts, so anything can happen tomorrow.”

Puig, meanwhile, started this week claiming top spot at the US Open 36-hole qualifier in California on Monday and carried that momentum to Houston, opening with a 68, then shooting a 66 in which he finished with five birdies in his final seven holes. “It for sure gave me some confidence,” Puig said, “and I’m glad it’s paying off.”