Highlights from LIV Golf London day one at the Centurion Club, St Albans
- Credit: Steven Paston/PA
South African golfer Charl Schwartzel has taken an early lead in day one of the inaugural LIV Golf London event, which began at the Centurion Club near St Albans yesterday.
Schwartzel fired six birdies and an eagle in the round to land himself at the top of the leaderboard on five under par.
The 2011 Masters winner finished day one (June 9) four ahead of Dustin Johnson, world number 13 and the highest-ranked player in the tournament, and three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson.
But despite Schwartzel's opening performance, the LIV tournament failed to shake off criticism that it is an upset in the golfing world.
The PGA Tour, which runs the US and Canadian Open championships, barred the golfers taking part in the eight-stage LIV tournament from its events.
Here are highlights from day one of LIV Golf London:
Shotgun tee off with Martin Kaymer taking the first birdie
The inaugural LIV Invitational began with tee off at the Centurion Club - between St Albans and Hemel Hempstead - at 2.15pm.
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The stakes are high - players are competing for their share of a $25 million prize pot in Hertfordshire, with the winner guaranteed to scoop $4m.
All 48 players, who are organised into 12 teams, teed off at the same time on different holes.
Amid the all-at-once action, former world number one Lee Westwood (Majesticks Golf Club) scored the first par.
Martin Kaymer (Cleeks GC) scored LIV's first ever birdie on the 15th hole, with a 7ft final shot.
On their first holes, Dustin Johnson (4 Aces GC) and Phil Mickelson (Hy Flyers GC) scored par.
Viraj Madappa scores first eagle
Iron Heads GC player Viraj Madappa scored the first ever eagle in a LIV event.
He rolled the ball in with a 10ft putt on the 13th hole.
Phachara Khongwatmai (Crushers GC) topped the leaderboard in the earlier stages of the round, dropping in the ranks towards the middle stages.
Day one leaderboard
Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson both finished the day with one under.
Charl Schwartzel (Stinger GC) took a late lead with an eagle at 6.30pm, securing his top-spot position.
Topping the individual leaderboard are:
- Charl Schwartzel (Stinger GC) (-5)
- Hennie Du Plessis (Stinger GC) (-4)
- Scott Vincent (Smash GC) (-3)
- Phachara Khongwatmai (Crushers GC) (-3)
Stinger GC tops the team leaderboard, with Phil Mickelson's Hy Flyers in second position, and Dustin Johnson's 4 Aces GC in fifth:
- Stinger GC (-9)
- Hy Flyers GC (-3)
- Crushers GC (-3)
- Majesticks GC (-2)
- 4 Aces GC (-1)
- Smash GC (E)
- Torque GC (+1)
- Iron Heads GC (+1)
- Fireballs GC (+2)
- Cleeks GC (+3)
- Punch GC (+4)
- Niblicks GC (+7)
PGA Tour suspends LIV Golf players
The long-established PGA Tour has suspended the memberships of golfers taking part in the LIV Golf London event near St Albans.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said any players competing at the Centurion Club without a proper event and media rights release will be barred from PGA Tour events.
He criticised talk of "money, money and more money" in the new LIV "super league".
Monahan said: "Players' participation in the Saudi Golf League/LIV Golf event is in violation of our tournament regulations."
He added: "These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons.
"They can’t demand the same PGA TOUR membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as you.
"That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners.
"I am certain our fans and partners – who are surely tired of all this talk of money, money and more money – will continue to be entertained and compelled by the world-class competition you display each and every week, where there are true consequences for every shot you take and your rightful place in history whenever you reach that elusive winner’s circle."
A spokesperson for LIV responded, hailing in an era of "free agency" for golfers.
They said: "The announcement by the PGA Tour is vindictive and it deepens the divide between the Tour and its members.
"It's troubling that the Tour, an organisation dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity blocking golfers from playing.
"This certainly is not the last word on this topic.
"The era of free agency is beginning as we are proud to have a full field of players joining us in London and beyond."
The suspension involves 17 players, but some of them - including Charl Schwartzel and Dustin Johnson - had resigned their membership before the PGA Tour released its statement.
Speaking to the press after day one at the Centurion Club, Ian Poulter (Majesticks GC) said he intends to appeal the suspension.
He said: "I’ve played a lot of tournaments all around the world, this event is no different.
"It’s a shame if they view this as something different."
LIV Golf London day two schedule and live coverage
Friday, June 10 marks the second day (out of three) at LIV Golf London.
According to the event website, gates open for spectators at 11am, with a fanzone experience for on-site spectators.
Après Golf events begin at 7pm.