LIV guys light it up Thursday at Oak Hill

Bryson DeChambeau, 2023 PGA Championship,Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports
Bryson DeChambeau, 2023 PGA Championship,Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports /

Day 1 at the PGA Championship was a big one for the LIV Tour delegation and its fans.

Not only did Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson vie for the lead, but the 15-player contingent as a group pretty thoroughly out-played their PGA Tour opposites across the Oak Hill landscape.

DeChambeau shot 66 on the par 70 track and trailed Eric Cole by just one shot, although Cole still had four holes to play when darkness fell. Johnson bogeyed the final hole but still turned in a 67 to tie for third with Scottie Scheffler and Corey Conners.

As a group, the LIV Tour competitors appeared more focused and more committed than many of the PGA Tour regulars. Counting both the 11 LIV guys who concluded their first round Thursday and the projected scores of the four who remained on the course…

LIV players averaged 71.81 strokes.

The 89 PGA Tour regulars in the field had it nowhere as good. Looking at the 73 who finished all 18 holes, the group average was 72.97 strokes, more than a full stroke higher than the LIV guys.

Even projecting the final scores of the 16 PGA Tour guys who still had holes to play when darkness fell, the group average only fell to 72.75, nearly a full stroke higher than LIV.

Nor did the picture improve for PGA Tour loyalists when the 15 LIV Tour guys were compared against the top 15 PGA Tour players – based on season-long scoring average — in the field.

The No. 1 guy on that list, Jon Rahm, turned in a 76. Sungjae Im shot 80, Tyrrell Hatton 77, Jason Day 76, and Wyndham Clark 77. The average for the PGA Tour’s best 15 was 73.13, which was even worse than the average for the PGA Tour delegation as a whole.

This was a notable turnaround in performance from last month’s Masters when the 51 PGA  Tour players in the field out-played the 17 LIV regulars by more than a half stroke.

The real story was the across-the-board steadiness of the LIV delegation. Of the 57 players who either finished at five-over or higher or were projected to do so when they concluded their opening round Friday morning, only Abraham Ancer and Sihwan Kim represented the Saudi-backed tour.

There were 23 PGA Tour regulars at or above the five-over mark Thursday.

dark. Next. Jim Nantz takes another hilarious shot at LIV Golf

Finally, what the LIV Tour guys did to the DP World Tour counterparts was even more one-sided.

The 26 DP World Tour pros in the field either averaged or were projected to average 73.69 strokes Thursday. That was nearly two strokes higher than the LIV Tour contingent, and the better part of a full stroke higher than the PGA Tour guys.