By Ian Chadband
June 12, 2022 — 7.40pm
Australian Travis Smyth has become a millionaire in just one week after cashing in on the controversial rivers of Saudi Arabian petrodollars being pumped into the game.
The Shellharbour professional, who has been battling to make a living mainly on the Asian tour, was the one Australian above all who ended up hitting the jackpot at the inaugural Greg Norman-fronted LIV Invitational series event at St Albans, north of London.
Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel banked $US4.75m ($A6.71m) on Saturday for winning the richest tournament in golf history. But the event’s Saudi backers faced renewed backlash after a 9/11 victims’ group called for American players to withdraw from the rebel series.
Schwartzel held on for a one-shot victory at the inaugural LIV Golf event outside London to secure the $4m prize for the individual victory — along with more than $750,000m from his share of the purse earned by his four-man Stinger team for topping the team rankings.
Smyth followed on from his previous weekend’s breakthrough in the Asian Tour’s International Series event - also in England and similarly funded by Saudi money - by leaving the Centurion Club on Saturday night with combined winnings of $US741,000 ($A1.1m) in just seven days.
The 27-year-old, who has been a professional for five years, has effectively more than doubled his career earnings in the space of seven days.
Travis Smyth tees off at Slaley Hall.Credit:Getty
Prior to his second-placed finish in the International Series event which finished the previous Sunday, Smyth had won $US32,000 all season on the Asian tour.
But his second-placed finish at Slaley Hall netted him $US220,000 alone, four times as much as he’d ever won in an event before, and earned him entry to the real Aladdin’s cave - the LIV Golf launch event.
At Centurion, Smyth shot 10-over par for the three rounds to finish joint 33rd among the 48 players. But that was still enough to earn him a $US146,000. His real stroke of luck was to finish second in the team event, carried largely by three players - Peter Uihlien, Richard Bland and Phachara Khongwatmai - who all outperformed him.
South African Charl Schwartzel poses with the trophy after winning the inaugural LIV Golf event.Credit:AP Photo
That earned the world No.395 a quarter share of another $1.5 million pot, meaning the three-day Centurion event netted him an eye-watering $US521,000 in total.
“I feel like I deserve it,” Smyth had said before the tournament began, as he pondered the prospect of his mega pay-day.
“I’ve worked my butt off and now I’m here. I don’t know if it’s life-changing, and you would want to hope it doesn’t change you as a person - but it’s definitely going to help financially.”
Five other Australians earned monster pay cheques from Centurion.
Wade Ormsby earned $US170,000 for finishing 22nd equal, while Matt Jones, one of those banned by the PGA Tour for joining the rebel series, takes home $US163,000.
Kevin Yuan’s $US146,000 for finishing joint 33rd alongside Smyth was four times as much as he’d ever won at any event before - the $US34,000 he won at Slaley Hall six days earlier.
Jed Morgan’s $US154,000 for finishing joint 30th was more than the $180,000 he won for winning the Australian PGA Championship by a record 11-stroke margin in January.
Blake Windred, the lowest Aussie finisher in joint 38th, picked up $US136,000.
AAP, with AP
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