Gooch up 1 after day of low scores in LIV Boston

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BOLTON, Mass. — Talor Gooch had a 5-under 65 on a day of low scoring and most players wearing shorts, building a one-shot lead Saturday over newcomer Joaquin Niemann after two rounds of the LIV Golf Invitational-Boston.

Gooch was among the first players to sign up with the Saudi-funded league and has finished in the top 10 in all three of the series.

He was at 12-under 198 and will start the third and final round Sunday on the first hole with Niemann and Dustin Johnson (63).

Johnson also has finished in the top 10 in all three LIV Golf events.

“I’ve been playing solid I feel like every week,” said Johnson, whose last victory was the Saudi International in February 2021. “Each round I’ve felt like I’m doing the right things. Eventually it’s all going to come together. The game is definitely in good form, and I like the direction it’s heading in.”

The most improved award goes to Sihwan Kim. He opened with an 87 in the first round, including a 10 on the 16th hole. Saturday was a different story. Kim was 24 shots better, finishing with a 63 to match the low round of the day.

Even with such low scoring at The International, most of the contenders felt as though they could have gone lower. Gooch missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th and had to settle for a one-shot lead.

“There’s some more meat on the bone out there,” Gooch said. “You don’t take good rounds for granted but you also aren’t satisfied. You know you can go get some more juice out of the squeeze, so hopefully we can do that tomorrow.”

Niemann, the 23-year-old from Chile, signed with LIV Golf this week after completing the Tour Championship in Atlanta. He will try to join Henrik Stenson (New Jersey) and Charl Schwartzel (London) as players winning their first LIV event.

Another newcomer, British Open champion Cameron Smith, had an eagle on the par-5 closing hole for the second straight day. This one only kept him in the game. That eagle allowed him to break par at 69 and left him five shots behind.

Players were allowed to wear shorts, though not everyone did. And not everyone will.

Johnson rarely wore shorts on the PGA Tour when they were allowed in pro-am. He got the message too late, and said he didn’t want to switch in the middle of the tournament. So he plans to be pants again Sunday.

“I’m sure in Bangkok and Jeddah we’ll all be in shorts,” Johnson said, referring to LIV Golf Invitational events in Asia later in the year.

Phil Mickelson ended his streak of nine consecutive rounds in LIV Golf — and 13 overall, including the U.S. Open and British Open — without breaking 70. He shot a 68 on Saturday and was tied for 39th in the 48-man field.

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