Carlos Ortiz opened with a 67 on Thursday to claim the round-one lead at the LIV Golf Invitational-Portland.
The Mexican star finished his first round at Pumpkin Ridge with nine pars, two bogeys and seven birdies, including three gains in a four-hole span, to reach 5-under par.
“I got brought in by Sergio here to play in the team, and I feel like I have a compromise to perform for the team, Eugenio and Abe, too, and that team aspect, it’s actually a huge difference for me,” said Ortiz.
“I love it. It makes me try harder. I’ve always grew up playing team events for Mexico and I love the format. I loved playing in college, so it just makes me almost play better.”
One off the pace was Dustin Johnson, who posted a first-day 68 to sit solo second on 4 under par. The former world No. 1 signed for a scorecard featuring just one bogey against five birdies.
DJ’s 4 Aces teammate Pat Perez was among a trio tied for third on 3 under following a wild round of 69 which included just six pars. Perez offset three bogeys and a double with a round-best eight birdies.
“First day, kind of a new whole thing, playing for a team and the whole thing. So it was — yeah, it was awesome,” said Perez.
“The vibe was great. Fans were fantastic. A lot of support. It was fun. It was nice”
South African Branden Grace and Hideto Tanihara of Japan rounded out the T3 grouping.
One further back was another trio headlined by Brooks Koepka, who carded a 2-under 70, highlighted by a hat trick of birdies on Nos. 5, 6 and 7.
The four-time major winner was joined in a tie for sixth by South African Hennie du Plessis and Aussie Wade Ormsby.
Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa were among a logjam of five more players tied for ninth on 1-under par 71.
American stars Patrick Reed, Matthew Wolff, Talor Gooch and Bryson DeChambeau highlighted another logjam at T14 on even-par 72.
Johnson (-4) and Perez (-3) teamed up to give the 4 Aces a two-shot lead in the team play, while Grace (-3) and duPlessis (-2) combined to give Team Stinger a 5 under start.
“Listen, we love this. I told my caddie Tiffy on the golf course, it’s almost like you kind of forget about you’re playing for yourself,” said Grace, whose Team Stinger claimed LIV Golf’s first team victory in London.
“I’m focused so much, I see the guys on the leaderboard, and you’re like, s—, I don’t want him to beat me. I want to contribute to the team.
“It’s great. I really enjoy this. Obviously we’ve got a great team coming off London, as well, and great to see the performance still carry on.”
LIV Golf Invitational-Portland
Leaderboard: Top 10
1. Carlos Ortiz -5 (67)
2. Dustin Johnson -4 (68)
3. Pat Perez -3 (69)
3. Hideto Tanihara -3 (69)
3. Branden Grace -3 (69)
6. Brooks Koepka -2 (70)
6. Hennie du Plessis -2 (70)
6. Wade Ormsby -2 (70)
9. Martin Kaymer -1 (71)
9. Louis Oosthuizen -1 (71)
9. Yuki Inamori -1 (71)
9. Jinichiro Kozuma -1 (71)
9. Scott Vincent -1 (71)
Pos-Team-Score (Top 2 Scores)
1. 4 Aces (-7)
(Johnson -4, Perez -3)
2. Stingers (-5)
(Grace -3, du Plessis -2)
3. Torque (-4)
(Tanihara -3, Kozuma -1)
3. Fireballs (-4)
(Ortiz -5, Abraham Ancer +1)
5. Punch (-2)
(Ormsby -2, Matt Jones E)
5. Cleeks (-2)
(Kaymer -1, Vincent -1)