ORLANDO, Fla. — Sebastian Munoz opened with an eagle and it only got better from there, leading the Colombian to a 9-under 62 and a 2-shot lead Friday at the LIV Golf Invitational Orlando.
The groupings reflected a focus on the Masters for the LIV event that takes place the weekend ahead of the first major of the year. The six former Masters champions were in the opening two groups — Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson starting on No. 1, with Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Charl Schwartzel on No. 2.
Ultimately, it was a guy who won’t be going to Augusta National in the lead.
Munoz started with eagle on the par-5 14th hole at Orange County National, the Florida course that previously hosted the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament. He added six birdies over the next nine holes and finished with two straight birdies.
“It wasn’t playing as easy as it felt,” Munoz said. “I was really good off the tee, and I was feeling my putter today. These greens are tough to read. I was pretty happy.”
Richard Bland, the 50-year-old from England, had a 64.
Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka, who also will be at the Masters next week, and Danny Lee were at 65. Lee won LIV Golf’s second event this year outside Tucson, Arizona.
Johnson played bogey-free but could only account for four birdies on a day of a few big numbers but ample low scoring. He had a 67 and was tied with Reed, who had two bogeys, one of them on a par-5.
“After some poor drivers early I was able to settle down,” Reed said. “I felt like it was just an OK round. It felt like I left a lot out there.”
This is the second tournament for the Orlando area. The Arnold Palmer Invitational was held four weeks ago at Bay Hill.
In the team competition, the Koepka-led Smash team was at 14 under (three scores counted), 1 shot ahead of Torque, for whom Munoz plays.
Bernd Wiesberger was the only player in the 48-man field who didn’t make a birdie. He had 17 pars and a double bogey and shot 73.
The former Masters champions are among 18 players who are eligible for the Masters.