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Abraham Ancer takes early Saudi lead; Rookie of the Year Cam Young 2 back

Abraham Ancer shook off a bit more early-season rust Thursday at the Saudi International, where he carded a 7-under 63 to take a one-shot lead after the opening round at Royal Greens.

Ancer missed the cut last week at the DP World Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic, his first tournament start in more than two months following the conclusion of the LIV Golf season.

“I was just going out there to see where my game was at,” he told reporters. “I was practicing pretty heavily the month before the tournament, but it’s always different once you tee it up in a tournament. My first round wasn’t my best, but after that I felt really good and tried to bring that feeling over here.”

Full-field scores from the PIF Saudi International

Ancer is one of 47 LIV players in the field this week in Saudi Arabia, at the tournament sponsored by the country’s Public Investment Fund, the same organization that financially backs LIV Golf.

Ancer has a one-shot lead over Sebastian Munoz and sits two shots clear of Cameron Young, Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen. Garcia is making his first start since offseason knee surgery.

Both Munoz and Young, the reigning Rookie of the Year, received conflicting-event releases from the Tour to play in the Asian Tour event. The PGA Tour is playing this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Dustin Johnson, one of the tournament headliners and a two-time winner of this event, withdrew before the start of the first round because of a back injury.

Brooks Koepka (69), Phil Mickelson (70) and Cameron Smith (73) are among those well off the pace after the first round.