Niemann takes a 2-shot lead in Saudi Arabia. Anthony Kim has another 76 in his LIV debut

Captain Joaquín Niemann of Torque GC hits his shot from the 15th tee during the first round of LIV Golf Jeddah at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on Friday, March 1, 2024, in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (Charles Laberge/LIV Golf via AP)
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KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Joaquin Niemann took six holes to get going Saturday and then ran off six birdies on his way to a 6-under 64, giving him a two-shot lead in LIV Golf Jeddah as he goes for his second LIV win in three starts this year.

For Anthony Kim, Saturday was another struggle.

Kim, competing after being away from golf for nearly 12 years, started the second round at Royal Greens with three bogeys and a double bogey. He wound up with another 76, leaving him 25 shots behind after two rounds.

Kim has made one birdie in each of his two rounds since returning to golf. He signed up with LIV as a wild card for the remainder of the season, with hopes of playing well enough to earn a permanent spot for 2025 in the Saudi-funded league.

Niemann took until his third season on LIV to win, and now he goes for his second title. He won the season opener in Mexico, where he shot 59 at Mayakoba and eventually won in a playoff.

The Chilean says he was motivated in the offseason by not being in the majors. The Masters extended him an invitation based on three strong performances on the European tour, including an Australian Open victory.

“I’m still a long, long way away from the position where I want to be,” said Niemann, who was at 13-under 127. “I just go from there, and hopefully tomorrow have a great day, too, see my shots, stay calm and just do the same.”

Jason Kokrak (62) and Louis Oosthuizen (66) were two shots behind. Masters champion Jon Rahm, who joined the Saudi-funded league in the offseason, had a 69 and was four behind. Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka (66) was eight shots back.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf