The LIV Golf Invitational Series made its first stop in the United States this weekend, and just like the controversial tour’s first event, a South African golfer walked away more than $4 million richer than he arrived.
Branden Grace shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday, the final of three rounds, to finish 13 under at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club near Portland, Oregon. The event, similar to the first one that South African Louis Oosthuizen won at the Centurion Club in London, was clouded by critics and protests about the tour’s funding by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Grace edged out Carlos Ortiz by 2 strokes and Dustin Johnson, one of the biggest golfers to ditch the PGA Tour in favor of a large payday with LIV Golf, by 4 strokes. The 34-year-old South African won $4.375 million — $4 million for the individual win and $375,000 for being a member of the second-place team. Through two LIV events, Grace has earned $6.4 million — more than double his best PGA Tour season of $2.8 million in 2015-16.
“Played flawless golf, played really, really well when I needed to do something special and came up and managed to pull it out,” Grace said, per ESPN. “But just what a great day, it was amazing to come here, this new format, this new everything is amazing, and everybody here is having a blast.”
Patrick Reed, another well known PGA golfer who left and was playing in his first LIV event, also shot 9 under, while Oosthuizen followed up his first-place finish at Centurion with a 7-under fifth at Pumpkin Ridge.
A wrinkle of LIV Golf, on top of playing only 54 holes, is the team tournament that runs alongside the individual one. Johnson’s team — the “4 Aces GC” — won the tournament to earn extra money for himself, Reed, Talor Gooch and Pat Perez.
In his first event with LIV Golf, Bryson DeChambeau finished 10th at 2 under. Brooks Koepka, also in his first LIV event, placed 20th at even par. Only five golfers shot worse than Phil Mickelson, who shot 10 over across the three rounds. But the LIV Golf series doesn’t have a cut, meaning even Mickelson earned some money for participating.
On Sunday, another PGA Tour pro defected for the deep-pocketed LIV series. Paul Casey, the 26th-ranked golfer in the world, will join the tour for its next event at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, from July 29-31.