Golf: Charl Schwartzel maintains lead at LIV Golf event in London

South Africa's Charl Schwartzel of the Stinger team in action as he plays out of a bunker on the 18th hole during the second round. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (FIELD LEVEL MEDIA) - Charl Schwartzel held a three-shot lead over fellow South African Hennie du Plessis after Friday's (June 10) second round at the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series event at the Centurion Club outside London.

Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, is at 9 under after carding a 4-under 66. His "Stinger GC" teammate du Plessis is at 6 under, followed by American Peter Uihlein at 4 under and another South African Oliver Bekker at 3 under.

Two-time major winner Dustin Johnson is tied for fifth at 1 under, while six-time major winner Phil Mickelson is tied for 26th at 4 over as only eight players in the 48-player field are under par after two rounds.

The Saudi-financed golf league is seen as a rival to the PGA Tour and has garnered criticism for attempting to help "sportswash" Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

Despite the controversy, LIV Golf attracted several big names by offering purses far exceeding those found on the PGA Tour. The London Invitational's purse is US$20 million (S$27 million), with US$4 million awarded for first place.

The PGA Tour suspended 17 current and former members on Thursday for participating in this event.

Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion, confirmed on Friday that he is also defecting from the PGA Tour to join the LIV Golf series.

LIV Golf features three-round tournaments with an individual and a team component. Player fields will be divided into teams of three every week via a draft. The three teams with the best combined scores for the week will earn additional prize money.

Stinger GC (15 under) remains atop the team leaderboard with a seven-shot advantage over Crushers GC. They are followed by Majesticks GC (6 under) and 4 Aces GC (4 under).

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