$4 million for the winner, $3 million for the best team: payday for the golfers. More stars are joining the controversial new Saudi tour. The winner of the start, Charl Schwartzel, is happy about the check and is not interested in the origin of the money.
When professional golfer Charl Schwartzel pocketed a total of almost five million US dollars for his triumph at the start of the controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series, more than in his last four years combined, the South African didn't give a damn about the source of the record sum. "Where the money comes from is not something I've ever looked at playing in my 20-year career," said the 37-year-old after his London win.
The new Golf series was recently heavily criticized because of the million-euro investment from Saudi Arabia. The background is that the country, which has been criticized for human rights violations, is trying to improve its image with lucrative sporting events. In total, the prize money in the British capital was 25 million dollars. The money comes from the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is chaired by Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
"I think if I start looking into every place we've played, you could find mistakes everywhere," said Schwartzel, who received $4 million for his singles win alone. He also won the team competition with his South African colleagues Hennie du Plessis, Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen and received a share of 750,000 dollars. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could play golf for so much money," said the 2011 Masters winner.
After three days on the par 70 course, the German golf star Martin Kaymer came in 16th in a field of 48 players and received 245,000 dollars in prize money. Even Andy Ogletree from the USA was the last to collect $120,000.
At the beginning of the tournament, the American PGA Tour had banned 17 golf professionals for their participation in the competitive series - including Schwartzel and Kaymer. But even the ban does not seem to keep the golf pros from tempting the lucrative business. Around the modern event at the Centurion Golf Club, the LIV Series announced the commitment of star players Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed.
According to rumours, participation in the new tour has been made palatable to golfers with millions in entry fees. Among other things, superstar Tiger Woods was also asked. "Woods turned down a deal that was incredibly high. We're talking in the high nine figures," LIV CEO and former top golfer Greg Norman told the Washington Post.
Despite the dispute between the golf tours, qualified players can participate in the US Open from Thursday, as it is not run by the PGA. Kaymer won't be teeing off in the third major of the year at Brookline, though. The former world number one canceled his start in the US state of Massachusetts because of an inflammation in his wrist.