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Caleb Surratt among the top three

It wasn't long ago that Caleb Surratt won the SEC title as a 19-year-old freshman in Tennessee.

On Friday, after the first round of the LIV Golf Houston at the Golf Club of Houston, he was in the lead with 7 under par, tied with Martin Kaymer and Adrian Meronk.

“I definitely think I didn't achieve the goals I set for myself on the tour, but I also underestimated some of the things I need to learn,” said Surratt, who turned pro in January and signed with the LIV tour. “One of the things I'm learning is to shift my focus a lot away from the results.”

The results were good on Friday as the field played in heat and humidity when it felt like 100 degrees during the round as the LIV Tour made its debut in Houston.

“I haven't faced much adversity on the golf course,” said Surrat, who is ranked 31st on the LIV Tour. “But I feel like in this heat, you're facing adversity from the first hour to the fifth hour.”

Surrat, who started in shotgun format on hole No. 8, made birdies on six of his first nine holes.

Kaymer, who has not won in the United States since winning the 2014 U.S. Open, made four consecutive birdies on holes 1 through 4 and finished with birdies on 11 and 12 to share the lead.

Kaymer and Meronk are both playing in the LIV Tour team format at Cleeks GC. Cleeks GC leads at 17 under par. Kalle Samooja, the team's other scoring player, shot 3 under par.

Joaquin Niemann, Jon Rahm and Dean Burmester – the top three in this season’s LIV rankings – had mixed results on Friday.

Niemann, who failed to qualify for the US Open last week, is tied for third at 5 under par and has only missed a few more birdie putts.

“I'm pretty pleased, it was (frustrating), I could have dug pretty deep today,” Nieman said. “But it's still a good round … to have a good weekend and sink those putts.”

Rahm, who started on hole 3, had a double bogey on hole 18 when he hit the water and finished the match at 3 under par. Burmester finished the match at even par.

Houston-area native Patrick Reed, who has three top-20 finishes this season, started strong with birdies on the first two holes. He finished at 5 under par, with a bogey on hole 4 the only blemish on his scorecard.

“The game was solid today, I wouldn't say it was spectacular,” Reed said. “I (know) what I have to do … and hope to have a good run this weekend and have a chance to catch these guys … the support (in Houston) gives me that extra energy to go out there and play well.”