ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Peter Uihlein was in the company of some of golf’s top newsmakers on Thursday, and made some news of his own with an 8-under 64 giving him a share of the lead in the Dunhill Links Championship.
Uihlein, one of four LIV Golf players in the European tour event, played with amateur partner Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s national wealth fund (PIF) that backs LIV Golf.
Al-Rumayyan is now is negotiations with the PGA Tour and European tour to create a separate company that would combine the tour’s commercial interests.
Also playing in their group on the Old Course at St. Andrews was R&A CEO Martin Slumbers, whose pro partner was Jordan Smith.
Slumbers was seen with Al-Rumayyan during the British Open this summer. Slumbers was asked during The Open if he would entertain PIF money for events run by the R&A.
“If I’m very open, we are and do and continue to do, talk to various potential sponsors,” Slumbers said in July. “We have a number of large corporate partners that help us make this thing happen. I think the world has changed in the last year. It’s not just golf. You’re seeing it in football. You’re seeing it in F1. You’re seeing it in cricket. I’m sure tennis won’t be that far behind.
“The world of sport has changed dramatically in the last 12 months, and it is not feasible for the R&A or golf to just ignore what is a societal change on a global basis. We will be considering within all the parameters that we look at all the options that we have.”
Uihlein shared the lead with Sebastian Soderberg and Adri Arnaus at the pro-am that takes place at St. Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie. The final round is on the Old Course.
LIV Golf players in the field, including Louis Oosthuizen and Talor Gooch, were either not European tour members or had resigned their membership before playing in a LIV Golf event. They are sponsor invitations and faced no sanctions from the tour.
Of greater notoriety were Matt Fitzpatrick (67), Tommy Fleetwood (69) and Robert MacIntyre (70), all of them at Carnoustie just four days after they helped Europe to an emotional and thorough victory over the United States in the Ryder Cup outside Rome.
History came from David Howell, who made his 722nd appearance on the European tour to break the record of Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Six of the best nine scores in the first round came at St. Andrews, including the rounds of Uihlein and Soderberg that featured fast starts in good conditions.
Soderberg birdied seven of his first eight holes to go out in 29, while all eight of the birdies by Uihlein — who plays on the LIV Golf circuit — were in the first 14 holes of the American’s bogey-free round.
Arnaus played at Carnoustie, where he birdied five straight holes from No. 17 after starting at the 10th, and also eagled the par-5 14th hole.
Among the six players a shot off the lead was Nicolas Colsaerts, one of Europe’s vice captains at the Ryder Cup in Rome that ended Sunday with a 16 1/2-11 1/2 win over the Americans to regain the gold trophy.