SA’s Schwartzel leads after opening round of inaugural LIV Invitational Series

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South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel carded a five-under 65 for the lead after the opening round of the inaugural LIV Invitational Series at the Centurion Club outside London.

Schwartzel leads countryman Hennie du Plessis by a stroke, while star players in the 48-man field. Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, both are on one under following a respective opening round 69’s.

As the opening round got underway, the PGA Tour suspended long-time fan favourite Mickelson and all other members who decided to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series and said anyone else who makes the jump will face the same fate.

Appeal suspension

Meanwhile, Britain’s Ian Poulter said he will appeal his suspension from the PGA Tour for playing in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Poulter was among 17 golfers sanctioned by the U.S.-based Tour shortly after play got underway at LIV Golf’s inaugural event outside London on Thursday.

“I will appeal for sure. It makes no sense,” the former world number five said after carding a five-over 75 in the opening round at Centurion Club.

“Having two Tour cards and the ability to play golf all over the world, what’s wrong with that?

“I didn’t resign my membership because I don’t feel I have done anything wrong. I have played all over the world for 25 years. This is no different … it’s a power struggle and it’s just disappointing.”

In a letter sent to members by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, those who join the lucrative breakaway series will not be permitted to play on the circuit as a non-member via a sponsor exemption or any other eligibility category.

Not bothered

LIV Golf is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and is offering prize money worth $255 million across eight events.

Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell revealed that he had reluctantly resigned from the PGA Tour 30 minutes before teeing off on Thursday while past Masters winner Sergio Garcia said he was “not bothered” by the suspension. – Additional reporting Reuters