ST. ALBANS, England -- Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel banked $4.75 million on Saturday by winning the richest tournament in golf history.
Schwartzel held on for a 1-shot victory at the inaugural LIV Golf event outside London to secure the $4 million prize for the individual victory -- along with another $750,000 from his share of the $3 million purse earned by his four-man Stinger team for topping the team rankings.
Schwartzel collected more prize money from winning the three-day, 54-hole event than he had from the last four years combined. Not that it could match the sense of sporting achievement that he felt after his win at Augusta National in 2011.
"Money is one thing, but there you're playing for prestige, history," he said. "Winning a major will always top anything you do."
This hefty paycheck has come at a cost to Schwartzel's career status -- he resigned his membership of the PGA Tour to play on the unsanctioned series without a waiver.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could play for that much money in golf," Schwartzel, who had not won a PGA or European tour event since 2016, told the crowd.
Pressed in the news conference, he dismissed criticism of the windfall coming from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
"Where the money comes from is not something ... that I've ever looked at playing in my 20 years career," the South African player said. "I think if I start digging everywhere where we played, you could find fault in anything."
Fellow South African Hennie Du Plessis, who was selected for Stinger by team captain Louis Oosthuizen in the draft, earned $2.875 million by finishing second at Centurion Club, located between Hemel Hempstead and St. Albans.
Schwartzel entered the final day with a 3-shot lead and did just enough to hold off Du Plessis despite finishing with a 2-over 72 for a 7-under total of 203.
It is the first of eight events in the first year of LIV Golf, which began against the backdrop of the PGA Tour banning players who signed up. The European tour has yet to comment on any sanctions for players who jumped to the series without its approval.
Twenty players have now defected from the PGA Tour, with Patrick Reed the latest former Masters champion confirmed on Saturday as signing up to LIV Golf as the final round was being completed.
However, the lucrative rewards for joining the Public Investment Fund-backed series have not been enough to entice any players ranked in the world's top 10.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.