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What are the differences between the Canadian Open and the LIV Golf Invitational London?

With the two golf tournaments taking place over the same days, we consider the contrasting elements of and opinions on each one.

Update:
ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Pablo Larrazabal of Cleeks GC on the 18th green during day one of the LIV Golf Invitational - London at The Centurion Club on June 09, 2022 in St Albans, England. (Photo by John Phillips/LIV Golf/Getty Images)
John Phillips/LIV GolfGetty

Two major golf competitions began on Thursday 9 June 2022, namely the Canadian Open and the LIV Invitational, and for rather contrasting reasons have been getting the sporting world’s attention. Let’s have a look at each of them and what people are saying.

Canadian Open vs LIV Invitational: what are they?

World number 7 Rory Mclroy is hoping to defend his Canadian title following the covid pandemic delay. He won it in 2019 but will be up against stiff opposition with PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas also in the mix for Golf Canada and RBC’s US$8.7 million dollar purse.

Other PGA Tour stars include world no. 1 and 2022 Master champion Scottie Scheffler, world no. 3 and 2022 The Players champion Cam Smith, world no. 4 and 2022 PGA champion Justin Thomas and world no. 9 Sam Burns, a 3-time PGA Tour winner in 2022. Here’s the full list of participants who will compete over four days and 72 holes.

Breaking from traditional, however, is the LIV Invitational which will employ a 54-hole tournament, rather than the usual 72-hole stroke play-style event, featuring 48 participating players - also divided into 12 teams of four - competing against each other. The players will play a shotgun start in groups of three on 16 of the 18 holes.

Created as a start-up tour that would compete with the PGA Tour, it was commonly referred to as the “Saudi Golf League” in reference to its Saudi Arabian financial backing. Hosting eight events during this, its inaugural season, professional golfers will not have to commit to playing a full schedule and will be paid instead on an event-by-event basis.

With $20 million set to be awarded at London, the total purse for the full eight events is set to be $225 million. But the backlash from the PGA was swift. Here’s how some of the golfers reacted to being banned.

Canadian Open vs LIV Invitational: who’s winning?

At the time of writing, we’re still awaiting the second round of each tournament, which takes place on Friday. So let’s have a quick check on how the first day’s action played out.

Bogey-free Clark leads in Toronto

Up in Canada, Wyndham Clark fired a bogey-free, 7-under-par 63 to take the first-round lead in Toronto. Clark made five of his seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch from Nos. 10-17 at St. George’s Golf & County Club. It was enough for a one-shot edge over England’s Matt Fitzpatrick.

Clark -- No. 293 in the Official World Golf Ranking -- has never won on the PGA Tour but opened last week’s Memorial Tournament with a 4-under round, one off the lead.

“Friday my nerves and some anxiousness out there kind of affected how I played, and I was really frustrated because my game was there last week,” Clark said. “I really felt like I could have turned that into a really great week, and I just didn’t fully have it on the weekend. I played great Saturday and Sunday and shot like even-par both days. So it was just nice to come out here, felt similar play, but I just had the putts fall.”

The unusual layout of St. George’s means players are teeing off at Nos. 1 and 9 for the first two rounds, rather than the usual Nos. 1 and 10. Fitzpatrick started at No. 9 and birdied his first three holes and four of his first five. He finished the day with seven birdies and just one bogey. Doug Ghim and Harold Varner III shot 5-under 65s to form a tie for third. Mackenzie Hughes was the low Canadian for the day, joining a tie for fifth with Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Lee Hodges and Tony Finau at 4 under.

McIlroy is the defending champion; after he won the 2019 Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf & Country Club, the tournament was scratched for two years due to the covid-19 pandemic. McIlroy’s last hole was the par-3 eighth, where he sank a 22-footer for birdie to get to 4 under.

“I think this course’s best defense in any conditions is the rough and the pin positions,” McIlroy said. “The greens are slopey. If you hit it in the rough, you don’t have a chance of getting to some of the hole locations.”

Hughes started his round on No. 9 and made an early splash with an eagle at the par-5 11th. He reached the back fringe of the green with his second shot and made the 12 1/2-foot putt from there. No Canadian player has won his national open since Pat Fletcher in 1954.

“Obviously every week you go on the PGA Tour, you want to play well, but playing well in front of the home fans and your friends and family, it’s hard to describe how good that feels,” Hughes said.

World No. 1 and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas both opened with rounds of 1-under 69.

Schwartzel inaugural LIV Day 1 leader

South African Charl Schwartzel has become the first ever opening-round leader of a LIV Golf Invitational Series event. 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.

As you may know, there is also a team event within the main event in the LIV format. And it may come as no surprise, given the above, that 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.

Read more about the placings at the LIV Invitational Day 1.

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