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HUMBLE, Texas: Caleb Surratt struggled to disregard the noise in his first few months since turning pro to join LIV Golf.

Now he’s determined to make some noise.
 
The 20-year-old Surratt, LIV Golf’s youngest player, started the second half of the 2024 season with a bang, shooting a bogey-free 7-under 65 Friday at LIV Golf Houston to share the first-round lead with the Cleeks GC duo of captain Martin Kaymer and Adrian Meronk.

“Obviously, I have the mindset that the job is not finished by any means,” said Surratt of Legion XIII, “but I’m really happy to be out here playing free for probably the first time this season.”

The Cleeks also made plenty of noise, shooting a cumulative score of 17 under to grab a three-shot advantage over Torque GC in the team competition.

It’s the first time the Cleeks, who remain in search of their first trophy of any kind, have led since last year’s opening round in Adelaide.

Kaymer’s team is definitely trending in the right direction. In the most recent LIV Golf event in Singapore, the Cleeks tied for second, their best-ever result. Then two weeks ago, Cleeks veteran Richard Bland won the Senior PGA Championship in his senior debut.

Now Kaymer has found his form after a lengthy recovery from wrist surgery, and his team leads for the first time in more than a year, even without Bland contributing a counting score.

First-year LIV player Kalle Samooja continued to show signs of progress with a 3-under 69 to round out the team’s scoring.

“I think what Richard did a couple of weeks ago really helped our team spirit,” Kaymer said. “We were really in a good place, but a win can make a big difference. … The way Richard is playing is inspiring.”

The trio of individual leaders are one shot ahead of Kevin Na (Iron Heads GC) and Carlos Ortiz (Torque). Seven players are two shots back, including Individual points leader Joaquin Niemann (Torque) and hometown favorite Patrick Reed (4Aces GC).

It came on a day in which 41 of the 54 players in the field broke par, with nine of those shooting bogey-free rounds, as the winds died down on a steamy afternoon at the Golf Club of Houston.

“When the wind dies around here, especially when it’s this hot, we’re going to be able to shoot a number,” said Reed.

For Surratt, the 65 is his lowest score relative to par in his 22 rounds since leaving the University of Tennessee as a 19-year-old teenager to join Jon Rahm’s expansion team.

He showed flashes in the first half of the season, especially during Legion’s two team wins. But he was still adjusting to life as a pro and spending too much time worried about things out of his control — social media chatter, expectations from outsiders, crowd sizes he had never seen before.

“That’s all stuff I title as noise,” Surratt said, who birdied six of his first 10 holes Friday. “… Once I started to let go of the things I can’t control, I’ve been a lot more free, and I’m very thankful for that.”

Team counting scores

Standings and counting scores for Friday’s opening round of the team competition at LIV Golf Houston:

1. CLEEKS GC -17 (Kaymer 65, Meronk 65, Samooja 69)

2. TORQUE GC -14 (Ortiz 66, Niemann 67, Muñoz 69)

T3. RIPPER GC -12 (Leishman 67, Jones 68, Herbert 69)

T3. LEGION XIII -12 (Surratt 65, Rahm 69, Hatton 70)

T3. 4ACES GC -12 (Johnson 67, Reed 67, Varner III 70)

T3. FIREBALLS GC -12 (Garcia 67, Puig 68, Chacarra 69)

7. CRUSHERS GC -11 (Casey 67, DeChambeau 69, Lahiri 69)

T8. IRON HEADS -10 (Na 66, Lee 70, Kozuma 70)

T8. MAJESTICKS GC -10 (Poulter 67, Westwood 69, Stenson 70)

10. SMASH GC -6 (McDowell 69, Koepka 70, Kokrak 71)

T11. HYFLYERS GC -5 (Steele 70, Tringale 70, Mickelson 71)

T11. STINGER GC -5 (Oosthuizen 69, Schwartzel 70, Burmester 72)

13. RANGEGOATS GC -3 (Wolff 69, Pieters 70, Uihlein 74)

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