South Africa is made of gold. Branden Grace, 34 years old and number 128 in the world, has risen this Saturday as the winner in Portland of the second tournament of the LIV Golf series, the juicy Saudi league, owner of a check of 4,375 million dollars: the fat four kilos for being the individual champion of the appointment and the bribe because his team, made up of four South Africans (Grace, Du Plessis, Oosthuizen and Schwartzel), was second in the collective competition. Grace thus takes over from his compatriot Charl Schwartzel, who at the opening stop in London (then he was 126 in the world ranking) won the individual round and was also part of the champion team, a carom that raised his booty to 4.75 millions of dollars. The winner of the last US Open, the Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, entered 3.15 million, the largest prize in the history of the Grand Slam. The Saudi league sweeps with the checkbook in hand.
Four birdies in the last six holes they crowned Grace, winner with -13 to the -11 of the Mexican Carlos Ortiz (2.125 million dollars) and -9 of the Americans Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed, members of the winning team along with Pat Pérez and Talor Gooch. Adrián Otaegui was the best ranked Spaniard among the 48 participants, in 21st place with +1; Sergio García dropped to 26, with +4; and one step below him finished with +5 debutant Eugenio López-Chacarra in his first appearance as a professional. With his final charge, Grace ousted Ortiz from the lead, who went on to amass a good lead with three birdies on the first four holes as Johnson ran out of steam. The Mexican, with a victory on the PGA Tour (Houston Open in 2020), was one of the last-minute signings of the Saudi league. Grace had so far two wins on the American circuit (RBC Heritage in 2016 and Puerto Rico Open in 2021) from which he has been expelled for his rebellion.
The next stop for this million-dollar Super League will be from July 29 to 31 at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, a course owned by the American tycoon. It is expected that there, as has happened on this occasion in Portland, the families of the 9/11 victims’ association will demonstrate in front of the course and ask to speak with some of the American golfers. Phil Mickelson and other players received a letter from the association reproaching them for their financial ties to the Saudi regime.
The clash of heads continues. LIV Golf has been collecting increasingly valuable cards (this Saturday during the last day of Portland it announced the signing of Paul Casey, number 26 in the world) and the PGA Tour and the European circuit (DP World Tour) reinforced this week their alliance, extended until 2035, to face the Saudi enemy with greater prizes and more advantages to those who remain faithful in their ranks. On the near horizon, from July 14 to 17, the stars of both sides will compete for the 150th edition of the British Open, which for this special occasion will dress up in the birthplace of Saint Andrews.