Hundreds of fans jumped the gallery ropes and walked the 18th fairway with major winner Cameron Smith as he and his all-Australian Ripper GC team were treated like touring rockstars by a 35,000-strong crowd on day one at LIV Golf Adelaide.

But it was qualifying school graduate Jinichiro Kozuma who upstaged the home favourites with a scintillating round.

Kozuma, from Japan, earned one of three spots from LIV Golf’s q school in Abu Dhabi late last year but had not finished inside the top 40 in five LIV events this season. On Friday at The Grange in Adelaide, he fired a blistering 63.

With his family watching in the crowd, Kozuma bagged seven birdies and an eagle to lead at nine under par.

“I wanted to play really well in front of my family and impress all the family. I guess I got to do that, and I’m really happy about that,” he said.

Kozuma’s Iron Heads teammate, New Zealand’s Danny Lee, was eight under alongside Carlos Ortiz.

Meanwhile, Australia’s biggest golf star, 2022 British Open winner Smith was solid on day one, it was his teammates Marc Leishman and Matt Jones who led the Australian tilt on the individual leaderboard.

Admitting the Ripper team tried too hard in the inaugural LIV Adelaide last year, Jones said a better lead-in helped his six-under 66.

“We wanted to play well last year and we didn’t but this year we came in a little more relaxed,” the two-time Australian Open champion Jones said.

Leishman was a shot back after a tidy 67 and said while the team was better prepared, he still had butterflies playing in front of bumper crowds in his home country.

“There was some nervous energy this morning and the first few holes; it’s always great to play in front of crowds like this especially in Australia,” Leishman said.

While the captains were grouped together in trios, all non-captain teammates played together. Smith was grouped with fellow team skippers Sergio Garcia (Fireballs) and two-time major winner Jon Rahm (Legion XIII), while Ripper’s Leishman, Jones and Lucas Herbert played together.

Jones nearly aced the 14th, while both he and Leishman both made birdies on the jam-packed “Watering hole” par-3 12th.

Three of the four Australians including Smith were among the 39 players in the field who shot under par to combine for the lowest combined LIV score this year.

Although he struck the ball beautifully, Smith didn’t secure a birdie until the fifth hole. Then the three-time LIV winner and former six-time PGA Tour champion struck a superb second shot around the dogleg at the par-5 seventh and drained the eagle. He added one more birdie at the par-5 13th and avoided bogey all day for a four-under 68.


9-under Jinichiro Kozuma

8-under Danny Lee, Carlos Ortiz

7-under Peter Uhlein, Mito Pereira, Andy Ogletree, Anirban Lahiri


6- under Matt Jones

5- under Marc Leishman

4-under Cam Smith

1- over Lucas Herbert