Varner leads LIV event as Koepka struggles in return for 5th major win

STERLING, Va. (AP) — Brooks Koepka came back from the top after winning his fifth major championship with a flat par 72 round that left him eight strokes behind Harold Varner III on Friday after the opening round of LIV Golf DC at Trump National.

Koepka still had reason to be grateful. On the first hole he used at the driver, the face cracked.

“Thank goodness it cracked now instead of going down last week,” Koepka said.

The drive came in handy when he hit one of his best tee shots on the accessible par-4 14th on the Oak Hill fringe, hauled the bunkers on the 15th that set up a corner off from rough to 4 feet and another PGA Championship title.

He was back at LIV Golf just five days after his big win.

Varner started his round with a bogey on the par-3 fourth hole, and that was his only mistake. He had a pair of eagles and five birdies for a 64, giving him a two-stroke lead over former US amateur champion James Piot.

Andy Ogletree, making another start as a replacement for Paul Casey and his injured foot, was part of the group at 68 that included British Open champion Cameron Smith.

Phil Mickelson had six bogeys in his round of 74.


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