LIV Golf's 15 US Open players combine for 53-over on day one

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Two-time major winner Dustin Johnson and 2021 US Amateur champion James Piot led 15 LIV Golf Series players by cracking par in Thursday's first round of the US Open.

Johnson fired a two-under par 68 at The Country club to share seventh, two strokes behind leader Adam Hadwin of Canada, with fellow American Piot on 69 to share 14th.

But the Saudi-backed upstart group's talent went a combined 53-over par Thursday, including Phil Mickelson firing an eight-over 78 on his 52nd birthday to share 144th place.

South African Louis Oosthuizen shot 77, Australia's Jed Morgan had an 82, Spain's Sergio Garcia shot 74 and South African Branden Grace was on 76 after sharing third in last week's LIV Golf debut event in England.

Golf's great divide was a major sub-plot as LIV Golf rebels and US PGA Tour stars were both allowed in the field of 156.

The US Golf Association chose not to follow a PGA Tour ban of 17 golfers who played in last week's LIV Golf debut in England, instead staying faithful to this year's US Open qualifying standards.

LIV Golf offers the largest purses in the sport's history at $25 million per regular-season event, $7.5 million more than this week's US Open prize money total.

England's Matt Fitzpatrick, who won the 2013 US Amateur at The Country Club, played alongside Johnson and said there was nothing awkward just because the American had jumped from the PGA to LIV.

"No. No. DJ is still DJ," Fitzpatrick said. "I really enjoy playing with DJ. He is a great guy, and he compliments you on good shots, which is more than some players do. In my opinion, he's a down-to-earth guy."

Johnson, who won $625,000 for taking eighth at the LIV Golf opener, missed the green and made bogey at the par-3 second but birdied from 10 feet at the third and rolled in a four-footer at the par-5 eighth. He missed the green at the par-3 11th for another bogey but landed approaches just inside five feet to set up a birdie at 13 and outside five feet ahead of a birdie at 17.

Piot, who shared 25th at the LIV opener, had three birdies and two bogeys in matching playing partners Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa.

"I think he played the best of the three of us," second-ranked defending champion Rahm said. "He definitely had a chance to shoot lower than both Collin and I."

Many LIV players had brisker breezes with afternoon starts. Morgan had seven bogeys with a double bogey and triple bogey.

Kevin Na, who shared 33rd at the LIV opener, started off the 10th tee and birdied three of his first five holes to join the leaders, only to make a double bogey at the 15th and follow with three straight bogeys then three more on the front nine to fire a 75.

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