Charl Schwartzel. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel won the inaugural event of the Saudi -funded LIV Golf series, while Patrick Reed was the latest player to sign.
Schwartzel of South Africa scored the final round of 72 at the Centurion Club outside London to finish seven below par and beat his teammate Hennie du Plessis.
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The 37-year-old received a $ 4 million (R63.4 million) winner’s check and also won $ 750,000 (R11.89 million) to be part of the winning team in the 54-hole, three-day event.
“Honestly, I’m relieved,” said the 2011 Masters champion, who led by five shots with seven holes to play before a double bogey on 12 made a nervous finish.
“Not in my wildest dreams. I feel like I can play with a lot of money in golf. It’s an amazing experience.”
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, who tried to set up a world tour in 1994, said: “The evolution of the game of golf is still alive and LIV is still alive.
“In 27 years, a lot of obstacles have been in our path, a lot of dreams that are trying to be thrown away, but not being able to squash us and golf will definitely be a force for all of this.”
Earlier, U.S. golfer Reed was the latest U.S. PGA Tour member to join the breakaway circuit, with 17 competitors in the first event this week suspended by the Tour shortly after play began in St Albans on Thursday.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said that “the same fate befell” for players competing in the upcoming LIV event, with Reed and Bryson DeChambeau set to contest in the second event in Oregon starting later this month.
Reed, 31, who won a Masters title in 2018 and has nine professional titles under his belt, is the ninth major champion to join the Rebel series.
“My list of LIV Golf players is getting stronger now with a player of Patrick Reed’s caliber,” Norman said.
“He has a track record that has proven to be one of the most consistent competitors in pro golf and adds another great presence to our tournaments.”
Reed said: “I’m very excited – just thinking of being a part of the evolution and change in golf for the better.”
Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and former world number one Dustin Johnson were among the other stars to appear at the $ 25 million premiere event near London.
Organizers have promised to “supercharge” golf, offer no -cut tournaments, “shotgun starts” together and team elements.
Golfers who have entered the LIV series have faced tough questions about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and have been accused of greedily pursuing the great prizes on offer.
Schwartzel was asked after the victory if he had any concerns about the source of the money – the Saudi state wealth fund.
“Where the money is is not something I see when playing in a 20 -year career, you know,” he said.
“I think if I start digging somewhere where we play, you can find any mistakes.”
Eight LIV tournaments this year are worth a staggering $ 255 million, with plans to expand the series in the coming years.
Mickelson did not deny rumors that he would receive a $ 200 million fee to compete, while Johnson reportedly earned $ 150 million.