LIV Golf: Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson salvage rounds of one-under after stuttering starts

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Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson salvage rounds of one-under to finish four shots off leader Charl Schwartzel after stuttering starts to life in Saudi revolution… as Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood have days to forget at inaugural LIV Golf event

  • South African Charl Schwartzel leads the inaugural LIV Golf event at five-under
  • His Stinger team-mates Hennie du Plessis and Branden Grace had good rounds
  • Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson redeemed their rounds to finish four shots off
  • But Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell did not have strong starts 

For all the talk of the LIV Golf Series luring away the world’s biggest stars, only two of the so-called big names managed to finish in the red after the opening round of the inaugural event. 

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Headliners Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson managed to redeem their rounds after a stuttering start to the ‘new era of golf’. 

Three birdies in four holes on his back nine allowed the lefty to drop under par, while Johnson just managed to salvage his round with a birdie on the last as they shot matching one-under 69s – four shots off the leader. 

Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson managed to redeem their rounds after stuttering starts

Three birdies in four holes on his back nine allowed Mickelson to drop under par

Three birdies in four holes on his back nine allowed Mickelson to drop under par

However, the marquee names were outscored by their playing partner, the unheralded Zimbabwean Scott Vincent, who was a shot better on two-under. 

Meanwhile, he South Africans enjoyed the Saudi opener as Charl Schwartzel stung the rest of the field to finish leader on five-under. 

The leader’s score gives Stinger GC, aka the South African contingency, a boost in the team competition with Hennie du Plessis hot on his heels one shot behind and Branden Grace also in the mix at the top of the leaderboard.  But the Stingers were let down by captain Louis Oosthuizen as the World No 21.

Charl Schwartzel leads the inaugural LIV Golf event after an opening round of five-under

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Charl Schwartzel leads the inaugural LIV Golf event after an opening round of five-under

Schwartzel's team-mate and countryman Hennie du Plessis is hot on his heels, one shot behind

Schwartzel’s team-mate and countryman Hennie du Plessis is hot on his heels, one shot behind

Oosthuizen was joined down the leaderboard by fellow captains Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell. 

Poulter and Lee Westwood were forced to let their younger team-mates Laurie Canter and Sam Horsfield do all the heavy lifting on day one. 

Canter and Horsfield were by far the better duo of the all-English Majesticks coming in with a pair of 69s, while veterans Poulter and Westwood finished five-over on the start to the Saudi revoloution.

But that won’t concern them too much with $120,000 up for grabs for last place alone, among the obscene and frankly grotesque mega-money prize fun of $25million. 

Captain of the all-English Majesticks Ian Poulter let his team down with a poor first round

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Captain of the all-English Majesticks Ian Poulter let his team down with a poor first round

Team-mate Lee Westwood also had a round to forget as the pair finished five-over

Team-mate Lee Westwood also had a round to forget as the pair finished five-over 

More to follow. 

Here is Sportsmail’s live blog for updates on the opening day of the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series event at the Centurion Club. Play starts at 2pm.

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