Golfprofi Charl Schwartzel won the start of the controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series and received a winner’s check for four million US dollars (a good 3.8 million euros) just for winning the individual competition. The 37-year-old South African won the first tournament of the new tour in London on Saturday with a total of 203 strokes, just ahead of his compatriot Hennie du Plessis (204 strokes). Third place was shared by the American Peter Uihlein and Branden Grace from South Africa (205 each).
Schwartzel also won the team competition at the Centurion Golf Club and, together with Louis Oosthuizen (also South Africa), du Plessis and Grace, raked in another three million dollars in prize money. The German golf star Martin Kaymer finished 15th in the 48-man field with a total of 213 strokes after three days on the par 70 course.
The new Golf series is criticized because of the million-euro investment from Saudi Arabia. The background is that the country, which has been criticized for human rights violations, is trying to improve its image with lucrative sporting events. Including the team competition, the prize money at the start in London was 25 million dollars (23.8 million euros). Even Andy Ogletree from the USA was the last to collect $120,000 (114,092 euros)
At the beginning of the tournament, the American PGA Tour had banned 17 golf professionals for their participation in the competitive series – in addition to Kaymer, these also included the Americans Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. Other well-known professionals who are no longer allowed to participate in PGA events are the Spaniard Sergio Garcia and the Englishman Ian Poulter.