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SINGAPORE: After suffering a “little low point” a week ago in Australia, Torque GC’s Sebastian Munoz produced his best round of the 2024 season on Friday to take the first-round lead at LIV Golf Singapore.

Munoz’s 6-under 65 at Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong course gives him a one-shot advantage over a group of six players: Smash GC captain Brooks Koepka, Cleeks GC captain Martin Kaymer, Iron Heads GC captain Kevin Na, RangeGoats GC’s Thomas Pieters, HyFlyers GC’s Cameron Tringale and Fireballs GC’s Abraham Ancer.

Another eight players are two shots back, including Munoz’s captain Joaquin Niemann, the current Individual points leader.

The team leaderboard is just as crowded. Fireballs and Smash share the lead at 11 under, with three teams just one shot back: Cleeks, RangeGoats and Stinger GC.

For Munoz, Friday’s round was a welcome relief after his struggles in the first round in Adelaide. He suffered five bogeys, including three straight, in his final 10 holes to shoot a one-over 72. It was his fourth over-par score in five rounds to that point.

“(It) kind of hit me hard,” Munoz recalled. But his Torque teammates gathered together after the round to offer support. “We kind of had a deep talk,” he said. “Just having good, solid teammates can help you a lot.”

Munoz bounced back with two solid rounds to finish up in Adelaide, then fed off that momentum on Friday in Singapore, setting the tone with birdies on two of his first three holes.

Munoz added: “(I’m) really happy where the game is right now and kind of trending.”

Koepka, who was celebrating his 34th birthday on Friday, found his putting stroke that had been mostly absent this season. He opened with five birdies in his first seven holes, and then saved par with a 12-footer after his birdie attempt had rolled off the green. A three-putt on the par-4 16th was his only blemish.

“I thought I putted OK,” Koepka said. “Speed was off, but the ones that I needed to make, I felt like I made.”

Pieters has found his form recently with a tie for ninth in Miami and a tie for 14th in Adelaide. His bogey-free 66, including an eagle at the par-5 18th, was his sixth consecutive sub-par round.

He said: “I’ve been putting a lot of work into it over the last few months. I just had a rough time last year personally, and I finally found the time and the focus to kind of refocus on my game. I’ve been working on every aspect, and it’s kind of showing now.”

Ancer also continued his hot stretch that included his first LIV Golf individual win two months ago in Hong Kong. He suffered an early bogey, but then found his rhythm the rest of the way, including a stretch of three consecutive birdies to finish up his first nine holes.

After finishing 47th out of 48 players in Singapore last year, Ancer was happy with the strong start to this week.

He said: “I was not in the same spot with my swing last year. (I was) not playing confident at the time. I feel a lot better today. Big difference.”

Kaymer was coming off his best LIV round, an 8-under 64 on Sunday in Adelaide, and continued to show positive signs with his 66. Na, like Munoz, played well in the last two rounds in Adelaide after a tough start and was bogey-free for his first 15 holes on Friday.

Standings and counting scores for Friday’s opening round of the team competition at LIV Golf Singapore. The three best scores from each team count in the first two rounds while all four scores count in the final round. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.

T1. FIREBALLS GC -11 (Ancer 66, Chacarra 67, Garcia 69)

T1. SMASH GC -11 (Koepka 66, Gooch 68, McDowell 68)

T3. RANGEGOATS GC -10 (Pieters 66, Wolff 68, Uihlein 69)

T3. CLEEKS GC -10 (Kaymer 66, Meronk 67, Bland 70)

T3. STINGER GC -10 (Burmester 67, Oosthuizen 67, Grace 69)

6. TORQUE GC -9 (Muñoz 65, Niemann 67, Ortiz 72)

T7. RIPPER GC -8 (Herbert 67, Leishman 67, Smith 71)

T7. LEGION XIII -8 (Hatton 68, Vincent 68, Rahm 69)

9. HYFLYERS GC -7 (Tringale 66, Steele 68, Mickelson 72)

10. IRON HEADS GC -5 (Na 66, Vincent 70, Lee 72)

11. 4ACES GC -4 (Johnson 67, Reed 71, Varner III 71)

T12. CRUSHERS GC -1 (Casey 69, Lahiri 70, DeChambeau 73)

T12. MAJESTICKS GC -1 (Poulter 70, Horsfield 71, Westwood 71)

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