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Rookie Spaniard wins LIV Bangkok event to bag monster prize

Rookie Spaniard wins LIV Bangkok event to bag monster prize

GOLF: Unheralded Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra, who only turned professional in June this year, secured a massive US$4 million (B150mn) pay day yesterday (Oct 9) by winning the breakaway LIV golf tour event in Bangkok.

Golf
By AFP

Monday 10 October 2022, 09:23AM


Eventual winner Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra in action on day two of the tournament. Photo: AFP

Eventual winner Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra in action on day two of the tournament. Photo: AFP

The Spaniard had not finished inside the top 20 previously at a LIV event but landed a monster cheque after carding a final round three-under 69 to hold off former US Masters champion Patrick Reed by three strokes at Stonehill golf club in Pathum Thani.

The 22-year-old followed up his opening two rounds of 65 and 63 to finish on 19-under par.

There was a three-way tie for third in the 54-hole event with Englishmen Paul Casey and Richard Bland finishing on 15-under par alongside American Sihwan Kim.

“It’s great,” said Lopez-Chacarra who until a few months ago was still a college student.

“I’m playing with the best players in the world, and that’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was little and I’m learning from each of them.

“It’s been a dream, and I can’t be more excited for the next years to come.”

A stellar field including British Open champion Cameron Smith, big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau and multiple-major winners Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka all competed in the tournament.

They were joined by home heroes Sadom Kaewkanjana and Phachara Khongwatmai, plus a host of Ryder Cup- and major-winning stars including Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Patrick Reed.

In addition, two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson made on-air contributions to the broadcast coverage and served as a non-playing captain at the course.

Deep pockets’

The $25mn event in Bangkok was the Saudi-backed LIV tour’s first in Asia.

The deep pockets of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund have allowed LIV to offer eye-watering prize money - last place in Bangkok took home $120,000 - but have also drawn accusations of “sportswashing”, given the kingdom’s dubious human rights record.

The revolutionary tournament format of LIV Golf aims to supercharge the sport of golf.

Each event sees a 48-man field compete in 12 teams of four, with a shotgun start, on-course music and entertainment that creates an electric atmosphere.

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After three rounds of golf, both an individual and team champion is crowned and the prize of $25mn shared.

A host of top players have joined the series, plunging golf into a bitter civil war with the US PGA Tour banning players who sign for LIV.

And last week’s event was overshadowed by a row over world ranking points, after LIV said it would be co-sanctioned by the developmental MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Tour but the official rankings body OWGR refused to recognise it and award points.

LIV has previously staged five events in its first season, but without any ranking points awarded for its players - including former world number one Dustin Johnson.

LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman had said previously he was no longer prepared to negotiate with US PGA Tour chiefs while denying the Saudi-funded circuit was a “breakaway” league.

In an interview with The Australian newspaper last month, Norman said he had offered to meet with PGA Tour officials but they had repeatedly declined, instead focusing on reforming their tour to hang on to leading players.

“That’s why we are where we are today,” Norman claimed.

“We tried awfully hard, I know I did personally for the past year... when we knew we were never going to hear from them, we just decided to go.

“We have no interest in sitting down with them, to be honest with you, because our product is working.

“Our business model from day one was always built around being inclusive. It was always an additive to all tours,” he added, denying claims that the tour is striving to create a breakaway league.

“This notion we’re trying to destroy tours is not true. The PGA Tour is trying to destroy us, it’s as simple as that.

“But the PGA Tour has not sat down and had a conversation with myself or any of my investors.”

The tour travels to the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia for the next leg, starting on Friday (Oct 14).

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