Schwartzel wins rebel golf series opener as Reed signs up

·2-min read

Charl Schwartzel won the inaugural event in the Saudi-backed rebel LIV Golf series on Saturday as Patrick Reed became the latest big-name player to sign up.

South Africa's Schwartzel finished his third and final round at the Centurion Club outside London seven under par, one shot ahead of compatriot Hennie du Plessis, to win the $4 million first prize.

"I made a bad mistake on 12 which put me on the back foot but I needed to just stay calm and get this thing in the house," said the 2011 Masters champion.

But he added: "I'm just proud of how I hung in and it's a great feeling."

Earlier, Reed became the 19th US PGA Tour member to join the breakaway circuit, with the 17 competing in the first event this week suspended by the Tour shortly after play started in St Albans on Thursday.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said the "same fate holds true" for any players who compete in future LIV events, with Reed and Bryson DeChambeau set to contest the second event in Oregon at the end of the month.

Reed, 31, who won the Masters in 2018 and has nine professional titles under his belt, is the ninth major champion to join the rebel series.

"The growing roster of LIV Golf players gets even stronger today with a player of Patrick Reed’s calibre," said  LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman.

"He has a proven track record as one of the most consistent competitors in pro golf and adds yet another big presence at our tournaments."

Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and former world number one Dustin Johnson among other stars who featured in the inaugural $25 million event near London.

Organisers have pledged to "supercharge" golf, offering 54-hole tournaments with no cuts, simultaneous "shotgun starts" and a team element.

Golfers who have signed up to the LIV series have faced tough questions over Saudi Arabia's human rights record and have been accused of greed in chasing the huge rewards on offer.

The eight LIV tournaments this year are worth a staggering $255 million, with plans in place to expand the series over the coming years.

Mickelson did not dispel rumours he was receiving a fee of $200 million to compete, while Johnson is reportedly getting $150 million.

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