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LIV Golf crowns first champion and nabs another PGA star

Charl Schwartzel Reuters/Paul Childs
South Africa's Charl Schwartzel kisses the trophy after winning the inaugural LIV Golf event
  • South African golfer Charl Schwartzel wins $4.75 million
  • US favourite Patrick Reed joins Saudi-backed series
  • LIV chief executive Greg Norman hails ‘evolution of golf’

Charl Schwartzel picked up the biggest prize in golf history on Saturday, winning the first event in the Saudi-backed LIV Invitational Series.

The South African took home $4 million for his victory – plus $750,000 as a member of the winning team. His prize pot is equivalent to the sum it took him four years to earn on the PGA Tour, according to BBC Sport.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we could play for that much money in golf,” he said after accepting the trophy at the Centurion golf club near London.

The LIV series CEO, former world No 1 Greg Norman, added: “All I can say is the evolution of the game of golf has arrived.”

The PIF-funded competition has sparked controversy inside the sport and beyond, with the PGA Tour announcing that the 17 PGA golfers who played at the Centurion were suspended indefinitely from its events. These include star names Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, as well as Schwartzel.

Undeterred, LIV unveiled another big signing on Saturday: major winner and Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed.

Reed, a fan favourite known as “Captain America” for his Ryder Cup heroics, said he was looking forward to the team golf format.

“Been watching all weekend and the format and just the way everything is – I’m super-excited and can’t wait to be a part.”

He added: “It’s refreshing to see team golf again. It brings you back to the good old days in college and also Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups when you’re out there not just playing for yourself but you’re also playing for your team and building that camaraderie.

“Portland can’t get here fast enough.”

Reed will almost certainly be suspended by the PGA Tour before the next LIV event begins on June 30 – but the $25 million prize fund on offer at Portland’s Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club may provide some consolation.

Schwartzel said after his victory in London: “This is a historic moment. First LIV league tournament and, man, it’s awesome.

“The guys put up an amazing show. You know, what they have done was way beyond our expectations. The entertainment, the way they treat everybody, and the amount of money they put up for us, it’s out of this world.”