LIV Golf Invitational chief executive Greg Norman says "the evolution of golf" has arrived following the conclusion of the breakaway circuit's first event.

Charl Schwartzel survived a shaky finish on the back nine to hold off South African countryman Hennie du Plessis by one shot at the Centurion Club near London.

He pocketed $4.75million for his triumph – golf's biggest ever prize pot – after his Stinger GC also finished top of the team leaderboard.

The 2011 Masters champion was one of seven major winners taking part in the first leg of the breakaway series, which has attracted controversy due to its Saudi links.

But with Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez the latest to defect from the PGA Tour over the past few days, LIV Golf is only gaining more and more momentum.

"All I can say is that the evolution of golf has arrived," Norman, who first tried to set up a world tour in the 1990s, said at Saturday's presentation ceremony.

"For 27 years there have been a lot of obstacles put in our path, a lot of dreams have tried to be squashed but they couldn't squash us.

"Golf was always going to be a force for good. The fans wanted this. We wanted this for you. We wanted this for the players, for the caddies, for the players' families."

Schwartzel led from start to finish to claim a prize equal to the amount it has taken him four years to earn on the PGA Tour.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we could play for that much money in golf," he said.

"As you could see I was taking a bit of heat down the stretch and there was a lot of money involved."

More big names are expected to be unveiled by LIV ahead of its second tournament in Portland at the end of June, before the series moves to New Jersey, Boston and Chicago.

Charl Schwartzel survived a tense finish to the final round to hold off Hennie du Plessis by one shot and win the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational near London on Saturday. 

The South African carded a third-round 72 to finish seven-under par for the tournament, narrowly ahead of countryman Du Plessis in the 54-hole tournament.

A brilliant birdie on the final hole saw Peter Uihlein join Branden Grace one stroke further back at the Centurion Club to claim a share of third.

2011 Masters champion Schwartzel, one of seven major winners taking part in the breakaway series, will earn a reported $4.75million for his triumph.

He led the way at the end of the first two rounds and took a three-shot lead into the final day, which he started in good fashion by reaching the back nine without dropping a shot.

However, a double bogey on the par-four 12th opened the door for Du Plessis to make things a little more interesting in the race for golf's biggest ever prize.

Du Plessis got within a couple of shots of his Stinger GC team-mate, though Schwartzel had enough breathing space to finish with a bogey on the final hole that got him over the line.

"I was just trying to get this thing to the house. I had it in my hands and made it more difficult than it should have been," Schwartzel said.

"Hennie played fantastic golf and at 25 he has a bright future, he's playing fantastic golf. What [LIV Golf] have done is way beyond our expectations. It's out of this world."

Schwartzel, Du Plessis and Grace were all part of the same team, with Stinger finishing 14 shots ahead of the chasing pack.

Dustin Johnson, the highest-ranked player at the event, finished one-under par in eighth, while Phil Mickelson – the breakaway league's other superstar – was way down the leaderboard with 10 over.

The controversial Saudi-backed series will reconvene in Portland at the end of June for its second event, with more big names set to defect from the PGA Tour.

Patrick Reed and Pat Perez were confirmed as the latest to join the series on Saturday, while Bryson DeChambeau made the switch on Friday.

Charl Schwartzel holds a three-shot lead going into the final day of the LIV Golf Invitational in London after another impressive performance at Centurion.

The South African followed up his five-under opening round by going four under on day two of the 54-hole tournament.

His compatriot Hennie du Plessis is six under with Peter Uihlein two strokes further back.

Dustin Johnson, the two-time major champion and highest-ranked player at the event, is in a tie for sixth at one under.

He is one of only eight players under par after 36 holes, with Phil Mickelson struggling to get to grips with the course.

Mickelson ended the day four over par and, though there is no cut, his hopes of victory at the end of a week overshadowed by his and Johnson's ban from the PGA Tour for joining the controversial breakaway have surely gone.

Tiger Woods set off on his second round at Augusta with the wind blowing and the world watching as the five-time Masters champion looked to stay in contention.

After an opening one-under-par 71, Woods said he was "right where I need to be" at his comeback tournament, explaining he would require "lots of ice baths" before returning to action on Friday.

That is because his body is continuing to recover from the serious car accident in February 2021 that left him with major leg and foot injuries.

It is a surprise to many that Woods is competing this week, but he said ahead of the tournament that he believed he could win again, and Thursday's impressive round showed that was not merely bravado.

He teed off at 13:42 local time (18:42 BST), taking the driver off the tee and finding a large fairway bunker. From there he failed to hit the green, with Woods then unable to get up and down for par, rolling in for a bogey that nudged him back to level par.

The 46-year-old was champion at the Masters most recently in 2019, when he ended a run of 11 years without a major title.

He has 15 majors to date by his name, three behind record holder Jack Nicklaus.

Woods is playing his opening two rounds with Chile's Joaquin Niemann, who had a sparkling three-under 69 on Thursday. Louis Oosthuizen was part of the group but shot a 76 on day one and pulled out injured before the second round.

South African Charl Schwartzel won at Augusta in 2011 and made a significant move on Friday as a three-under 69, following an opening level-par 72, nudged him to within a shot of the lead, which was held by another former Masters winner in Danny Willett.

Willett made a birdie at his second hole of the day and stood at four under for the tournament early in his second round after an opening 69 on Thursday.

Im Sung-jae began at five under but slipped back to three under with three holes of his round remaining.

Australian Cameron Smith, who tied second at the Masters in 2020 and has two wins on the PGA Tour already this year, had a bizarre opening round on Thursday, with his four-under-par 68 bookended by double bogeys on the first and 18th holes.

The eight birdies he recorded between those calamitous holes pointed to Smith being a contender again this year.

Smith, 28, began on Friday with a dropped shot at the first, an improvement on how he got on in the opening round at the same hole but a blow nonetheless as it knocked him back to three under.

Russell Henley carded his first bogey of the tournament but still managed to double his lead at the Wyndham Championship on Friday. 

Seeking his first PGA Tour win in four years, Henley shot 64 in the second round and sits at 14 under par for the tournament. 

That left him four strokes up on Rory Sabbatini (64), Webb Simpson (65) and Scott Piercy (66) heading into the weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

Starting on the back nine at the Sedgefield Country Club, Henley bogeyed number 12, his third hole of the day, before reeling off four consecutive birdies from 14 through 17.

Three more birdies coming home after the turn solidified his edge as he eyes his first win since the 2017 Houston Open. 

Henley's 126 matches the lowest 36-hole score posted on tour this season along with Stewart Cink at the RBC Heritage. 

Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Sabbatini had a bogey-free day to match Henley's round, while Simpson remained near the top of the leaderboard thanks in part to an eagle at the fifth. 

Simpson's success is no surprise, as he has finished in the top three at the Wyndham the last four years after winning it in 2011. 

Tyler Duncan had the best round of the day with a 62 that left him five shots back at nine under along with Justin Rose (65) and Brian Stuard (66). 

Among other notables, Bubba Watson (69) and Adam Scott are 10 strokes back at four under, one shot better than the cut line. 

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (69) missed the cut by a stroke, while former world number one Luke Donald (67) finished at one under and two-time major winner Zach Johnson fell short at even par along with defending tournament champion Jim Herman. 

Also finished for the week-end are Padraig Harrington (76) at two over, Rickie Fowler (72) at three over and Charl Schwartzel (73) at seven over. 

Fowler's missed cut means his season is over, as he will not make the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time in his career. 

Two players who were tied for second after Thursday's opening round, Michael Thompson and Ted Potter Jr., also missed the cut after slumping to 74 and 77, respectively. 

Cameron Champ's three-day charge up the 3M Open leaderboard ended at the top on Sunday as the American took his third PGA Tour title.

Champ spread five birdies throughout a bogey-free final round at TPC Twin Cities, shooting 66 to finish the tournament at 15 under par.

That was two strokes better overall than the trio of Louis Oosthuizen (66), Charl Schwartzel (68) and Jhonattan Vegas (68), who tied for second at 13 under.

The 26-year-old Californian winner looked like he would need that cushion on the final hole as he yanked his tee shot well off the fairway, but a perfect approach shot gave him a two-foot putt for par and the title.

Champ battled his own body at times in the Minnesota heat, moving slowly late in his round and occasionally bending over while waiting to hit his shots.

He hung on at the end, though, adding a third title to his previous two PGA Tour wins at the 2019 Safeway Open and the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship.

"I was definitely dehydrated, but obviously I feel a lot better now," Champ told reporters, adding that he began to feel light-headed when he bent down to place or pick up his ball marker.

"Not sure why I was, because I drank a lot of water. You have so much adrenaline going and I was just trying to control that."

Sunday's near-miss was a familiar feeling for all three of the men who shared second place.

Oosthuizen has been runner-up in four of his last seven starts, while Vegas finished second for the third time this season and Schwartzel for the second time.

Keith Mitchell (67) finished a shot behind that trio to take fifth place, a day after recording seven consecutive birdies on the back nine.

Third-round leader Cam Tringale had a desperate day, shooting 74 to finish six strokes back of Champ at nine under.

Among other notables, Sergio Garcia (67) finished at eight under after his best round of the week, while Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed were at six under after closing with 71s.

Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith claimed the Zurich Classic of New Orleans after defeating Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in a play-off.

Leishman and Smith, who carded a final-round 70, won the first play-off hole to trump Oosthuizen and Schwartzel in the race for the title on Sunday.

Australian pair Leishman and Smith and South Africa's Oosthuizen-Schwartzel pairing (71) finished level at 20 under par through 72 holes, a shot clear of Americans Richy Werenski and Peter Uihlein (67).

The final round was the second foursome format of the tournament, after Thursday and Saturday's rounds used alternate-shot play at TPC Louisiana.

Smith and Leishman soared to the top of the leaderboard thanks to 12 holes of flawless golf, which featured four birdies, before three bogeys in five holes allowed Oosthuizen-Schwartzel to join them at the summit.

Leishman's birdie chip at the 16th hole tied the South Africans as the two teams headed for a play-off – the first play-off in the team format of the event since former Masters runner-up Smith and Jonas Blixt prevailed in 2017.

Defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer (70) finished 17 under overall, Xander Schauffele-Patrick Cantlay (67) and Henrik Stenson-Justin Rose (70) were two shots further back, while Tony Finau and Cameron Champ crashed down the leaderboard from joint-second to 17th place following their 76.

Schauffele and Cantlay combined for eight birdies and claimed a share of 11th place – tying the record for most par-breakers in a foursomes round at the tournament since it became a team event.

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel turned in a nine-under 63 in four-ball play to take the lead after the third round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. 

The South African duo are 19-under for the tournament and were one of six teams to record a 63, vaulting them past second-round leaders Tony Finau and Cameron Champ by a stroke. 

Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith also shot nine-under and are tied for second with the American pair. 

The top of the leaderboard at TPC Louisiana is crowded, with Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler sitting two shots back along with first-round leaders Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura. 

The tournament, which switched to a team event in 2017, features four-ball in the first and third rounds and foursomes in the second and fourth. 

Three teams are at 16 under and nine more at 15 under, with the latter group including defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer. 

The shot of the day belonged to Sam Ryder, who holed a five iron from 206 yards at No. 2 for a double eagle -- the first at the tournament since Rob Oppenheim did it in 2018.

 

 

 

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