LIV International Series: Who is leading in the individual and team format after Day 1?
The controversial Saudi-backed tournament got underway in London on Thursday, as the field of 48 targeting a huge cash prize started to take shape.
So, there it is. The LIV tournament that was set up to rival the PGA Tour has debuted in London and we have our first completed opening round leaderboard to assess. A leaderboard, of course, lined with petro-dollars and given an overly zealous sports-washing gloss.
But the interest, albeit modest, has been captured - primarily because of the ship-jumping from some of the world’s most recognisable players - and so we’re here to keep you posted on how it is developing, with South African Charl Schwartzel taking claim to becoming the first ever opening-round leader of a LIV Golf Invitational Series event.
More from the LIV tournament:
Schwartzel takes Day 1 lead in LIV Invitational
The 2011 Masters champion shot a 5-under-par 65, and goes into Day 2 with a one stroke lead over fellow South African and “Stinger GC” teammate Hennie du Plessis at London. Tied for third were Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe and Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand at 3-under 67.
Ahead of the inaugural LIV event, the PGA Tour suspended 17 current and former members, with many players applying for a “conflicting-event release” from the PGA Tour to play at Centurion Club this weekend, being denied but choosing the LIV cash injection anyway.
LIV nonetheless attracted several of the most recognisable names in golf, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia of Spain and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, offering purses far exceeding those found on the PGA Tour. The London Invitational’s purse is $20 million, with $4 million awarded for first place.
The LIV Golf format - ironically contradicting its own name - features three-round tournaments with an individual and a team component. Player fields will be divided into teams of three every week via a draft. The three teams with the best combined scores for the week will earn additional prize money.
LIV Team competition leaders after Day 1
The all-South African Stinger GC (9 under) has a hefty six-stroke advantage on the team leaderboard thanks to Schwartzel and du Plessis. Branden Grace (2 under) and Oosthuizen (2 over) make up the rest of the team.
Tied for second were Hyflyers GC and Crushers GC at 3 under. Mickelson, playing his first tournament since early February, rebounded from a double bogey to shoot a 1-under 69. Johnson also carded a 69.
Mickelson had gone on hiatus for several months after comments he made to author Alan Shipnuck about LIV that were revealed in February. Mickelson called the Saudis “scary (expletives) to get involved with” and admitted the country had a bad human rights record, but said he planned to deal with them anyway as a leverage play on the PGA Tour. Shipnuck released an unauthorized Mickelson biography last month. The longtime golf journalist said Thursday on social media that, after receiving a credential to cover the event, he was “physically removed” from Mickelson’s post-round press conference.
Let’s see what Day 2 brings, and you’ll be able to follow it live on AS USA.