Wednesday, February 1

Charl Schwartzel won the inaugural LIV Golf individual competition and $4 million prize.

South African Charl Schwartzel won the inaugural individual stroke-play competition of the inaugural Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, which took place on Saturday.

Schwartzel won $4 million for the three-round, 54-hole event at the Centurion Golf Club outside London. He shot 7-under, finishing one stroke clear of Hennie du Plessis. Schwartzel’s four-man team, Stinger GC, also won the team competition by 14 shots over Crushers GC and will split the $3 million prize. The 2011 Masters champion combined payday for winning both individual and team contests is $4.75 million. Phil Mickelson finished in 34th place on 10 over in the 48 player field. Dustin Johnson placed eighth, and ended up on 1 under after this tournament. Fronted by former world No. 1 Greg Norman, the LIV Golf series runs from June to October with their goal being “holistically improve professional golf on a global scale to help unlock its untapped potential.”

It is backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) held solely by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and someone who the US intelligence report categorized as the individual behind the approval of an operation that led to Jamal Khashoggi’s 2018 murder. Bin Salman has denied being involved in the journalist’s murder.

The source of Saudi Arabia’s funding has led some to question whether the country should be hosting a golf tournament, given its poor human rights record. Saudi Arabia has been criticized by human rights groups for years. In March, Saudi Arabia executed 81 men in the biggest mass execution in decades. Rights groups have criticized the country for executing people who were minors at the time of the offenses for which they were convicted. Mickelson was the main focus of attention at the inaugural tournament, mainly because he is one of the sport’s biggest stars but also because this will be his first competitive event since his controversial comments about the Saudi Arabian-funded events were published earlier this year by his biographer.

In a 2021 interview, six-time major winner Phil Mickelson made disparaging remarks about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and asserted that the kingdom killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mickelson’s comments were included in author Alan Shipnuck’s upcoming book, “Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar.” The next LIV Golf tournament is scheduled for June 30-July 2 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club near Portland, Oregon.

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