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Justin Thomas: It’s sad LIV Golf is overshadowing US Open

Follow live scores and updates from the US Open at Brookline as the third major of the season gets underway amid the “black cloud” of the LIV Golf series. It’s already been a momentous week for the sport, as the inaugural event of the Saudi-backed competition began at Centurion Club, while the loyal supporters of the PGA Tour Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas put on a show at the Canadian Open. It sets up what should be a thrilling week, as the two opposing sides of golf’s civil war come head to head at The Country Club.

McIlroy, who held off the challenge of the PGA Championship winner Thomas to win the title in Ontario last week, is the favourite ahead of the US Open as he looks to end his major drought. The 33-year-old has played some sparkling golf at the previous two majors this season and is feeling confident he has the game to string together a consistent four rounds. The four-time major winner is also set to be challenged by defending champion Jon Rahm, who is among the early starters, as well as the Masters champion Scottie Scheffler.

Elsewhere, there will be plenty of interest in the LIV Golf contingent, particularly Phil Mickelson, just days after the rebel players were banned by the PGA Tour. Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed are among those to sign up to the controversial event and the reception they receive will be another talking point on what is set to be an eventful week. Follow live scores and updates from the US Open, below:

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The second wave of players also features the majority of the high-profile defectors to the LIV Golf series. One of the least popular is Kevin Na, but he gets off to a fine start, chipping in for birdie.

Tom Kershaw16 June 2022 18:25

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After a poor start, Will Zalatoris made three birdies on the back nine to finish with a 69. That’s yet another impressive performance from the American at a major after missing out in a play-off against Justin Thomas at the PGA last month.

Tom Kershaw16 June 2022 18:18

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McIlroy can’t get up and down. That’s his first blemish of the day and sees him drop back into a share of the clubhouse lead at three-under-par. His playing partner, Hideki Matsuyama, gets a birdie to finish on even par.

The afternoon wave is just getting underway now at The Country Club, with Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler and Dustin Johnson all teeing off in the next half an hour.

Tom Kershaw16 June 2022 18:08

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It’s been a more fired-up version of McIlroy than we’re used to seeing and after thrashing at a bunker earlier in his round, there’s another visible display of frustration at the ninth after he cuts his approach into the thick rough. That’ll be a tricky chip to ensure he escapes with a par and sets the clubhouse lead.

Tom Kershaw16 June 2022 18:01

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Never in doubt! McIlroy reads the slight right-to-left slope perfectly and that birdie gives him the outright lead at -4. It’s been a terrific opening round from him, although he did spurn a similar position at the PGA Championship last month.

In the same group, Schauffele also takes advantage of the par-5 to move into the red.

Tom Kershaw16 June 2022 17:47

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Rory McIlroy leaves himself 80 yards into the par-5 8th and floats a wonderful pitch over the false front that skips twice and then stops dead pin-high. The Northern Irishman will have a great chance to move into the outright lead.

Tom Kershaw16 June 2022 17:42

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Max Homa joins the crowd in the clubhouse at -,1, as does James Piot, the 2021 US Amateur champion who played in the inaugural LIV Golf event in London last week.

Tom Kershaw16 June 2022 17:38

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It’s been a scrappy round from Jordan Spieth. He misses the green at the 18th and will need to produce an impressive up and down from the thick stuff to escape with an opening 71.

Tom Kershaw16 June 2022 17:33

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A fine finish from the defending champion. Rahm pulled his drive way left at the 9th but gets a fortunate lie. He digs out an approach that sticks to the right side of the green and rolls in a confident putt for birdie. A round of 69 leaves him well poised.

That score is matched by Morikawa, who made a sloppy bogey on his final hole after inexplicably fluffing a chip into the bunker.

Tom Kershaw16 June 2022 17:29

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Xander Schauffele follows McIlroy in for birdie at the 7th. The American hasn’t been at his best so far but that brings him back to level par. He will be one to look out for over the weekend. He’s never finished outside the top 10 at the US Open.

(Getty Images)

Tom Kershaw16 June 2022 17:24