Charl Schwartzel takes commanding LIV Golf lead as Bryson DeChambeau joins rebel tour

The former Masters champion is now in pole position to pocket the $4m prize for the winner in St Albans

Charl Schwartzel took a commanding final round lead at the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series but Bryson DeChambeau grabbed the headlines after committing to the rebel golf tour.

The former US Open champion and eight-time winner on the PGA Tour has become the latest high-profile golfer to join the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed tour.

But while LIV Golf continued to create more headlines off the course, South African Schwartzel carved out a three-shot lead on -9 at Centurion Club to position himself perfectly to win the $4m jackpot.

Compatriot Hennie Du Plessis is second and three shots back, with American Peter Uihlein third on -4.

But Dustin Johnson, the field’s big start entering the week, fell short with his second-round charge, finishing -1 and leaving himself with a mountain to climb in the third and final round on Saturday.

Schwartzel is also in line to take maximum earnings from the team tournament with his all-South African team Stinger GC at -15 and seven shots clear of Crushers GC on -8. Majesticks GC are third on -6 with an extra $5m available to be split between the top three teams.

DeChambeau joins Johnson and Phil Mickelson as superstar names to jump ship and join the breakaway Saudi-backed series.

Bryson DeChambeau is the latest big name to join LIV Golf

The PGA Tour confirmed on Thursday that all players currently playing at the opening event in St Albans this week and any who play in future events are indefinitely suspended.

“Bryson DeChambeau is an exciting addition to LIV Golf’s supercharged style of play. He is passionate about the sport, innovative in his approach and committed to pushing the boundaries in pursuit of excellence,” said LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman upon the announcement.

“He’s not afraid to think outside the box and supports our mission of doing things differently to grow our game. The power and energy he brings to the course will deliver added electricity to our competition in Portland and beyond.”

DeChambeau had previously been linked with the move but said in February that “as long as the best players in the world are playing the PGA Tour, so will I.”

Johnson also said he was “fully committed” to the PGA Tour on the same day, but subsequently resigned his membership and is competing in the opening £20milion, 54-hole event at Centurion Club this week.

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