The inaugural LIV Golf event at London’s Centurion Club was left in the dust on Sunday thanks to Rory McIlroy’s impeccable defence of the Canadian Open and a first female winner on the DP World Tour at the Scandinavian Mixed in Linn Grant.
The Scandinavian Mixed was rebranded as such back in 2020, when the tournament was co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour. But we had to wait a year to see the two fields combined in Sweden. Jonathan Caldwell was victorious in 2021, with Alice Hewson being the highest placed female in third place.
This year, Grant not only created history by becoming the first woman to win on the European/DP World Tour, but she set the best score in the history of the Scandinavian Mixed and its predecessor, the Scandinavian Masters, at 24 under par.
Meanwhile in St Albans, LIV Golf had a nervy start as Charl Schwartzel got his hands on the biggest payout in the history of golf, a cool $4.75 million. He held off his fellow compatriot Hennie Du Plessis who finished six under for the weekend, and another South African in Branden Grace found third place with five under.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could play for that much money in golf,” Schwartzel commented as he finished his final round on Saturday afternoon, to a less than excitable atmosphere and to a YouTube stream that peaked at 100,000 viewers.
For context, the lowest viewed major is the British Open averages 4.1 million viewers, and events like the Arnold Palmer averages 3.9 million viewers. So far, LIV is yet to tap into golf’s mainstream audience as the Saudi-led tour remains merely a curiosity at best for most fans.
The LIV Golf continued to take a battering as the Canadian Open raged on to a spicy Sunday. Outspoken critic of Greg Norman and the LIV Golf series, Rory McIlroy tore up the course on Sunday, shooting an eight-under-par 62. He had his usual breakdown along the way, with two bogeys and two pars raising the eyebrows of any viewers who remember his back-nine meltdown at Augusta. The Northern Irishman prevailed though, finishing with two strong birdies to reclaim his Canadian Open prize.
Behind him on the leaderboard was Tony Finau and Justin Thomas, and the trio were paired together on the final day. Their amiable relationship in a week that’s seen golfers splintering off in different directions was refreshing to see and we witnessed great performances from all three.
No one had a better final round than Justin Rose, however. The former world number one was unfortunate not to make history with a round of 58, joining the sub-60 club and matching Jim Furyk for having the lowest score ever in a PGA Tour event. Rose started the day on four under in T19th, but finished tied fourth with Sam Burns after an eventual round of 60.
Three eagles, seven birdies and three bogeys were his totals for the day, and although it won’t go down in the history books, it’s a phenomenal achievement for a player that was likely offered the chance to leave the PGA Tour for a big payday in the LIV Golf Invitational.
Following McIlroy’s win, the now world number three took aim at the new tour as he overtook Norman’s 20 PGA Tour wins. "The worst score in the group was six under par. It was pretty entertaining being part of it - the crowd, the calibre of play, everything about today was first class, which this tour is.” McIlroy said after his final round.
"It's the best tour in the world with the best talent. It feels really good to go out there and beat someone like JT, who is one of the best players I have ever played with."
He then admitted that he had a little bit of extra gusto to get that 21st win: "I had extra motivation of what's going on across the pond,
"The guy that's spearheading that tour has 20 wins on the PGA Tour and I was tied with him and I wanted to get one ahead of him. And I did."
Next up we have the US Open beginning this week at Brookline and the next LIV Golf event is on June 30th with Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed expected to join the tour in Portland, Oregon.
*18+ | BeGambleAware