Mickelson, Johnson tee off in Saudi-backed break-away series

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Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson are among the stars who teed off on Thursday at the LIV Golf Invitational London, the launch event of a lucrative and divisive series that is rocking the sport.

The $25 million event in St Albans — the biggest prize pot in history — is the first of eight tournaments this year bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, worth a combined $255 million.

A number of marquee names are in the 48-man field for the opener including six-time major winner Mickelson, former world number one Dustin John-son and Sergio Garcia.

European Ryder Cup stars Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell are also playing at the Centurion Club in St Albans.

Reports say Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler will become the latest big names to join the series.

Organisers are pledging to “supercharge” golf and widen its appeal, offering 54-hole tournaments with no cuts, simultaneous “shotgun starts” and a team element.

Signs around the course proclaim: “Golf. But Louder”. But the series is being staged in defiance of the main established tours, which are weighing up how to react in an intense power struggle.

Neither the US PGA Tour nor the DP World Tour, formerly known as the European Tour, have yet announced sanctions, though a decision is ex-pected soon.—APP

 

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