Howell wins LIV Golf season-opener in Mexico


Charles Howell III fired an eight-under-par 63 to win the opening event of the LIV Golf season at Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen in Mexico on Sunday.

Howell, whose most recent professional victory before Sunday came five years ago at the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, reeled off eight birdies to finish with a three-round 16-under-par aggregate of 197.

The 43-year-old journeyman, who started the day one shot off the pace, erupted over the front nine with six birdies before adding a seventh at the 10th hole.

He grabbed the eighth birdie of a bogey-free round on the 17th to seal a comfortable four-shot victory.

Peter Uihlein finished in second after carding a closing 68 for an aggregate 201.

Uihlein’s challenge effectively went up in smoke on the 12th hole when he triple-bogeyed to leave Howell with a relatively comfortable route to victory.

South Africa’s Branden Grace took third place with a four-under-par 67 while England’s Paul Casey was three shots back with a closing 70.

Brendan Steele and Australia’s Cam Smith were tied for fifth place on six under for the tournament.

Steele closed with a six-under-par 65 while Smith settled for a 67.

The Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf Series was launched last year, offering lucrative signing bonuses and record purses of $25 million for abbreviated 54-hole events.

A slew of major winners and other high profile golfers have joined the upstart circuit, which has bitterly divided the golfing world.

Human rights groups say the Greg Norman-fronted circuit was conceived as an exercise in “sports washing”, to deflect criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

The next event on the LIV Golf schedule takes place at the Gallery Golf Club outside Tucson, Arizona from March 17-19.

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