When Dustin Johnson made birdie at the 18th hole Friday at St. Andrews in Scotland, he set the early clubhouse lead at The Open Championship at 9 under par, which stood until Australian Cameron Smith and three others passed him.
It also made Johnson the first member of the LIV Golf Invitational Series to hold the lead at a major for any meaningful length of time.
Johnson wasn't the only LIV player to have a good showing Friday. Talor Gooch is tied for eighth at 7 under. Englishman Lee Westwood and Mexico's Abraham Ancer are in the mix at 5 under, and Sergio Garcia of Spain shot a 6-under 66 to get to the right side of the cut line at 3 under.
Gooch said after shooting a 69 Friday that he and his LIV compatriots felt galvanized after they'd admittedly "caught a lot of flack" for leaving the PGA Tour for its Saudi-financed rival.
"Everybody, it feels like, is against us, and that's OK," Gooch said. "Like you said, it's kind of banded us together, I think."
Earlier in the week, RA CEO Martin Slumbers said banning LIV players from future Open Championships was "not on the agenda" at present, but the governing body will continue to review how its qualifying criteria and exemptions work.
Gooch was asked if he felt extra motivation to win at St. Andrews in case it was his last chance to play The Open.
"I mean, it would be a cool one to go out on. Hopefully not, though," Gooch said.
"I'd like to think that the majors would like to have the best players in the world playing in their events in spite of everything that's going on, but obviously that's not up to me. It's up to other people. Hopefully this won't be my last one."
Gooch said he originally planned to play one LIV event when it debuted earlier this summer. He decided to join full-time when the PGA Tour indefinitely suspended him and all other members who played a LIV event without consent.
"Historically the tour has not done that," Gooch said. "So based on the history, that was my expectations."
Gooch didn't speak for everyone when it came to LIV players banding together. Johnson, ever the laid-back personality, claimed ignorance to any negative reactions to LIV.
"Not me because, honestly, I don't read anything," Johnson said. "So I wouldn't know what you were saying or if there was anything negative being said. I don't pay attention to it."
Garcia added that if LIV players fare well on the major stage, "it helps all of us there."
LIV players who missed Friday's cut included Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa (1 over), Brooks Koepka (4 over), Kevin Na (4 over) and Phil Mickelson (5 over).
--Field Level Media