Brooks Koepka edged out Peter Uihlein in a play-off to clinch the final individual prize of the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series on Sunday.

Two birdies on Koepka's front nine in Jeddah set him up well to push on for glory, but the American slipped up after the turn at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.

A birdie on the 10th was followed by three successive bogeys, and though Koepka recovered to birdie on the 15th and the last to finish at 12 under par, he had provided his rivals with an opportunity to catch up.

Overnight leader Uihlein was one of those to take advantage, with a clean back nine seeing the 33-year-old bounce back from carding two double bogeys earlier on in his round, with his final score of 70 enough to force a play-off with Smash GC team-mate Koepka.

While it was good news for Smash GC, who secured a six-shot win to boost their form ahead of the Team Championship in Miami later this month, there had to be a loser, and after three holes with no give, Uihlein found a bunker.

Having rescued himself from a similar situation on the previous play-off hole, this time Uihlein could only clip a shot into the water, handing four-time major winner Koepka the chance to putt for victory.

"The last two years – they haven't been fun," an emotional Koepka said.

"So it's been a long road, I'm super excited. My whole team, we got the band back together a couple of months ago, this is for them.

"I didn't know if my career was over, for a half-second. I wasn't sure when I was going to play. It's nice to come back and win."

Joaquin Niemann went round in 65 to finish one shot behind the leading pair, tied with Sergio Garcia.

Inaugural LIV Golf champion Dustin Johnson came in at 10 under, alongside Matthew Wolff, while Bernd Wiesberger joined Niemann in recording 65.

Peter Uihlein seized a one-stroke lead to carry into the final round of LIV Golf Jeddah after a seven-under-par 63 in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

The American leapfrogged compatriot Brooks Koepka at the top of the leaderboard after an eagle and birdie on his final two holes took him to 12 under.

 

The only blot on his copybook at the Royal Greens Golf Club was a double bogey at the par-four 13th.

Koepka, who led after the first day of competition on Friday, carded a three-under round of 67 to stay in touch.

Two shots further back are South Africa's Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia, with the Spaniard posting a bogey-free 64.

The inaugural individual LIV Golf champion Dustin Johnson stood five shots off the lead after a round of 65.

It was a disappointing day for Henrik Stenson, meanwhile, with the Swede sitting in last place after going round in 75, five over and for the tournament.

Brooks Koepka holds a two-stroke lead of LIV Golf Jeddah after finishing the opening round eight under par in Saudi Arabia.

The four-time major champion made eight birdies in his round of 62 and did not go over par on any hole to head into the weekend ahead of second-placed Charl Schwartzel, while Patrick Reed is tied for third with Hideto Tanihara and Peter Uihlein at three shots off the lead.

The inaugural individual LIV Golf champion Dustin Johnson is T16 on two under par, alongside Open champion and world number two Cameron Smith.

Johnson, who has collected 121 points across the season, struck five birdies, but a double-bogey on the par-three eighth set him back.

Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood fared slightly better at three under, the latter not carding any bogies in his round.

LIV Golf Bangkok winner Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra struggled to back up his performance in Thailand and is T28 at one under par, seven shots back from Koepka. Bryson DeChambeau, meanwhile, only managed a par 70.

After withdrawing from LIV Golf Bangkok with injury, Branden Grace carded a one-over-par round on his return to action.

Phil Mickelson says he has on the "winning side" with LIV Golf and believes the PGA Tour is "trending downwards."

Mickelson defected from the PGA Tour to join the Saudi-backed breakaway series on a hugely lucrative contract in June.

Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau are among the other high-profile players who turned their back on the PGA Tour to sign up for LIV Golf.

As he prepares to tee off in Jeddah on Friday, six-time major winner Mickelson is in no doubt he made the right decision.

He said: "Golf is very lucky to have the PIF [Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia] invest in the game… being influxed with billions of dollars.

"Now the US and the UK are not favourable to this, but everywhere else in the world, LIV Golf is loved. It is very negatively viewed currently [in the US and UK], but that has been changing and evolving already and in a few years LIV will be not only accepted but appreciated, because of the involvement and the influx of capital and what it is doing."

He added: "I've spoken with people who have had dealings that have not been positive with the [PGA] Tour and have had nothing but positive experiences with LIV.

"For a long, long time, my 30 years on the PGA Tour, pretty much all the best players played on the PGA Tour. That will never be the case again.

"I think going forward you have to pick the side you think is going to be successful. And I firmly believe that I'm on the winning side of how things are going to evolve and shape in the coming years for professional golf.

"I see LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA Tour trending downwards. And I love the side that I'm on."

Sergio Garcia admits it was "a hard decision" to eschew next year's Ryder Cup, stating he does not feel as if he would be "very welcome" amid the bitter PGA Tour-LIV Golf Invitational Series split.

The Spaniard, a six-time tournament winner, will not represent Team Europe next year at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Italy after failing to enter his name by last Friday's deadline.

While Team USA-eligible defectors are barred from inclusion following PGA Tour membership suspension, no call has been made on their opponents.

But even if he was to get a sponsor's invite, Garcia says he will not feature next year, acknowledging he is sad to feel ostracised amid the fallout of his defection to the Saudi-backed tour.

"It was a hard decision," he said. "But unfortunately, it doesn't feel like I'm very welcome there, so I don't want to be a bother to anyone.

"I've always said I love the Ryder Cup too much. I obviously would love to keep being a part of it. [But] when I see that so many people are against [me playing], if the team is better without me, I'd rather be out of it.

"There's obviously several guys who feel strongly that way. The [DP World] Tour is of that same thought. So I don't want to be something that might hurt the team.

"Obviously it's sad for me, how much I love the Ryder Cup and everything I've been able to do with Europe. That's the way they want it. I'm just helping out."

Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra claimed the LIV Golf Bangkok title after carding a final-round 69 to win by three strokes on a weather-affected final day.

The 22-year-old took a five-shot lead into the final round and did enough to hold off late charges from the likes of Patrick Reed and Paul Casey, the latter of whom will be left to rue an opening round of 71 after shooting 65 on both the second and third days.

Nobody bettered Lopez-Chacarra's first and second rounds of 65 and 63 respectively, and he overcame two bogies on the front nine to finish three under on the final day and seal victory, maintaining his focus despite play being suspended for an hour and a half because of a storm in the area.

The Spaniard was a high-ranked amateur before joining the controversial Saudi-backed tour in June and now earns his first professional championship, as well as a $4million purse.

Richard Bland and Branden Grace formed part of a leading trio with Lopez-Chacarra on seven under after the opening round, but Grace withdrew with injury on Saturday while Bland could not follow up his first-day success, losing pace on the eventual winner to finish joint-third – alongside Casey and Sihwan Kim and a stroke behind second-placed Reed.

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka was joint-eighth at 13 under, while Bryson DeChambeau ended 14th at 10 under.

Other big names were way off the pace, with Phil Mickelson 10 shots behind Lopez-Chacarra and 2022 Open Championship winner Cameron Smith finishing a disappointing tournament tied for 41st at four under.

Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra will take a five-stroke lead into the final round at LIV Golf Bangkok after ending a brilliant second day in Thailand at 16 under par.

Lopez-Chacarra was one of a leading trio on seven under after the first round, but Richard Bland was unable to keep up with the Spaniard and Branden Grace withdrew after just three holes on Saturday due to an acute muscle strain.

Bland is one of four five shots off the lead with Sihwan Kim, Patrick Reed and Harold Varner III – while they may not be completely out of the running yet, the chasing pack need Lopez-Chacarra to lose momentum.

If his form from the first two rounds is anything to go by, there is little hope of such a collapse, with no one in the field bettering his respective scores of 65 and 63.

Saturday's 63 was nine under par as the 22-year-old – who was a high-ranked amateur before joining LIV Golf in June – carded seven birdies and an eagle, which was holed from the sand on six, and avoided a single bogey.

Those trailing Lopez-Chacarra will be hoping the Madrid native's inexperience leads to a blip on Sunday.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is one of those who will aim to propel himself into contention as he sits on 10 under for the tournament, though victory will require something special.

Few other big names retain much of a chance of glory, however, with Bryson DeChambeau at seven under and Phil Mickelson another shot back.

Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson are among a group on four under, while 2022 Open Championship winner Cameron Smith is way down near the bottom of the standings at two under.

If Lopez-Chacarra can hold his nerve on Sunday, he will have gone from amateur golfer to winner of a $4million purse within four months.

Jon Rahm wishes the LIV Golf International Series defectors could play at the Ryder Cup, though he conceded "it does not look good" for the rebels' hopes.

The controversial Saudi-backed breakaway league continues to battle for world ranking points for its defectors, with the LIV Golf players also indefinitely banned from featuring on the PGA Tour.

Those bans mean the United States golfers that defected will not be able to compete at the Ryder Cup in Rome next September, while European players are awaiting a hearing in February on the sanctions.

A positive outcome for the Europeans who play on the LIV Golf circuit would see the DP World Tour unable to sanction the rebels, with Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sam Horsfield hoping to feature in Italy.

While Rahm has opposed the breakaway league, alongside likely Team Europe colleague Rory McIlroy, he expressed his disappointment that the best players may not be present at the Ryder Cup.

"The Ryder Cup is not the PGA Tour and European Tour against LIV – it's Europe versus the US, period," Rahm said.

"The best of each against the other, and for me the Ryder Cup is above all. I wish they could play but it doesn't look good."

Recent reports suggest Sergio Garcia has ruled himself out of Ryder Cup contention regardless of the hearing result.

The Spaniard failed to submit an entry for the Mallorca Open later in the month, meaning he will not meet the appearance requirements to retain his membership.

"It is a complicated situation for Sergio," Rahm added. "I understand he decided not to play because the last time he played a tournament on the European circuit he was not received very well, although I imagine it would be different in Mallorca.

"In any case, there are still days left and you can still sign up."

Bryson DeChambeau says it is "crazy" that LIV Golf players have been denied the opportunity to earn world ranking points.

Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) on Thursday announced that no points will be up for grabs at the events in Bangkok this week or Jeddah next week despite a new alliance between LIV Golf and the MENA Tour being formed on Wednesday.

Players on the Dubai-based MENA Tour have been able to earn points since 2016, but OWGR refused to award points for the two remaining LIV Golf events this year as they stated that insufficient notice had been given for a customary necessary review of the changes to be carried out.

That has not gone down well with 2020 U.S. Open DeChambeau, who was among the big names to turn their back on the PGA Tour and join the Saudi-backed breakaway series.

"They're delaying the inevitable," the American said after his first round in Bangkok on Friday. "We've hit every mark in their criteria, so for us not to get points is kind of crazy with having the top - at least I believe we have the top players in the world.

"Not all of them, but we certainly believe that there's enough that are in the top 50 and we deserve to be getting world ranking points.

"When they [OWGR] keep holding it back, they're going to just keep playing a waiting game where we're going to keep dropping down in the rankings to where our points won't even matter.

"That's what they're trying to accomplish, and I hope that people can see right through that rather than believe the lies that they've been told. From my perspective, I think we deserve points."

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka accused OWGR of "sitting on the fence".

"I don't think it [the OWGR statement] really was much of a response," Koepka said. "I just hate when you sit on the fence. Just pick a side. If it's yes or no, just pick one. I'm not a big fan of that.

"Yeah, not to say something to where it's not really an answer and we'll think about it. Just pick a side. If it's yes, if it's no, it's fine, we'll figure it out from there."

Cameron Smith was among the early stragglers at LIV Golf Bangkok as the Open champion finished his first round seven shots adrift of the leaders.

After winning the Chicago leg of the breakaway series last month, Australian Smith would have been hoping for more at Stonehill Golf Course on Friday.

A double bogey at 16 was followed by a pair of pars as he came home in level-par 72.

Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra, Richard Bland and Branden Grace were the unlikely leading trio on seven under, with Marc Leishman and Ian Poulter tied for fourth one shot back.

Brooks Koepka was one of five players on five under, with Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau three under and Dustin Johnson two under.

Only five players shot worse scores than Smith, with Chase Koepka and Matthew Wolff bringing up the rear on two under.

The three co-leaders all had bogey-free rounds, each posting rounds of 65 after making seven birdies.

Lopez-Chacarra is a 22-year-old Spaniard who was a top amateur before embarking on his professional career in the LIV ranks. He has yet to have a top-20 finish on the tour.

Bland is a 49-year-old Englishman who in May 2021 won his first European Tour title at the 478th attempt; while Grace, with two wins on the PGA Tour and nine on the European Tour, is the renowned top performer among the pace-setting trio.

The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) on Thursday revealed that no rankings points will be up for grabs in Bangkok this week or Jeddah next week.

LIV Golf players will not be able to secure world ranking points in the next two events despite a new alliance with the MENA Tour 

The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) on Thursday revealed that no rankings points will be up for grabs in Bangkok this week or Jeddah next week.

That decision comes a day after union between MENA, a Dubai-based tour that has been recognised by OWGR since 2016, and LIV Golf was announced.

MENA explained the alliance would "immediately qualify LIV Golf for OWGR points, starting with the LIV Golf Thailand this week", but that will not be the case.

OWGR said in a statement: "Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) received a communication from the MENA Tour on October 5th, 2022, at 13:05 BST.

"The communication detailed significant changes to the MENA Tour's membership structure along with an outline of the initial series of tournaments in the 2022-23 MENA Tour season.

"OWGR notes that the first two tournaments in this series appeared to be the same as the LIV Golf Invitational Series tournaments in Bangkok and Jeddah. The communication from the MENA Tour included a starting field data file for the Bangkok tournament, confirming that to be the case.

"A review of the changes to the MENA Tour is now under way by the OWGR.

"Notice of these changes given by the MENA Tour is insufficient to allow OWGR to conduct the customary necessary review ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok (7-9 October) and LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah (14-16 October).

"Only after the review is complete will a decision be made on awarding points to the MENA Tour's new "Limited Field Tournaments", defined by the MENA Tour in its Regulations as 'any MENA Tour-approved tournament, which comprises of a player field of less than 80 players'.

"Regular official MENA Tour events conducted over 54 or 72 holes with a cut after 36 holes, and its Tour Championship, typically conducted over 54 holes with no cut, remain eligible for inclusion in the OWGR."

All 48 LIV Golf players – including the likes of Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson – last month wrote an open letter to OWGR chairman Peter Dawson requesting points be awarded for both past and future events on the breakaway tour.

They stated that an OWGR without LIV "would be incomplete and inaccurate."

The LIV Golf Invitational Series has announced a partnership with the little-known MENA Tour in a bid to gain recognition from the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).

The OWGR does not currently recognise the LIV circuit, and several of the Saudi Arabia-backed tour's most high-profile players have expressed frustration at their inability to pick up ranking points.

Cameron Smith said last month that the awarding of ranking points at LIV events "would mean a lot", but some players on the rival PGA Tour have been less sympathetic.

Both Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have said LIV players can only blame themselves if they fail to qualify for majors, but the breakaway circuit may have found a way to earn the OWGR's blessing.

The MENA Tour – a feeder circuit that operates in the Middle East and North Africa – announced the formation of a "strategic alliance" with LIV Golf on Wednesday. 

A statement from the MENA Tour said the agreement "will result in LIV Golf Invitational events becoming part of and sanctioned by the MENA Tour", which has been recognised by the OWGR since 2016.

"This is a very exciting day for the MENA Tour and our players," said commissioner David Spencer. 

"Through this alliance, our players will now have enhanced playing opportunities and stronger pathways. This is great news for the future of many young players on our tour."

LIV Golf president Atul Khosla added: "We are taking this mutually beneficial action to support the game at the developmental level and because of the importance and fairness of LIV golfers qualifying for OWGR points.

"We're pleased to create pathways that give more opportunities for young players, while also giving fans rankings that include all the world's best golfers."

However, reports have noted the OWGR is yet to ratify the move, while the ranking points awarded are likely to be minimal should LIV events continue to employ smaller 48-player fields and take place over just three rounds

The Ryder Cup is "bigger than any individual player", says Europe captain Luke Donald, while Team USA skipper Zach Johnson has confirmed Tiger Woods will feature in some capacity.

Next year's tournament, set to take place at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club near Rome between September and October, is the first to come amid the bitter LIV Golf breakaway in the sport.

Donald succeeded Henrik Stenson after the latter was sacked for defecting from the PGA Tour, while Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith are among those who have also moved to the Saudi-backed league.

Questions have been raised over whether LIV Golf players will be considered for teams, with Zach Johnson indicating they would not be eligible for the USA, but Donald has now spoken of his hope the tournament will "unify" golf.

"The Ryder Cup is bigger than any individual player, and it's a great way to unify everyone," Donald said.

"I think it will continue to do that. What's so great about the Ryder Cup is that it does garner an interest in a new generation of players and fans to this game. "

Woods, an eight-time Ryder Cup veteran with Team USA, will be involved, even if he is not a playing member.

"I can tell you right now, I don't know whether he'll be here next year, but he will be part of this team in some capacity. He already is frankly," said Zach Johnson.

"I can't put this mildly; he loves the Ryder Cup. He wants to be a part of it as best he can. He and I will be in constant communication."

The PGA Tour has accused the LIV Golf Invitational Series of making "astronomical" offers to players in a bid to "sportswash" Saudi Arabia's global image in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday. 

The controversial LIV series – which counts the likes of Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau among its ranks – launched an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last month.

LIV accused the PGA of operating as a monopoly and alleged the Tour's decision to issue suspensions to players who joined the breakaway circuit was improper.

Eleven LIV golfers were originally named as plaintiffs in that claim, although eight – including Mickelson – have since withdrawn.

The PGA Tour has now hit back with legal action of its own, alleging: "A key component of LIV's strategy has been to intentionally induce Tour members to breach their Tour agreements and play in LIV events while seeking to maintain their Tour memberships and play in marquee Tour events, so LIV can free ride off the Tour and its platform."

The PGA's counterclaim goes on to accuse LIV of offering players "astronomical sums of money" in an attempt "to use the LIV Players and the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities."

In a widely publicised statement, LIV responded by saying: "The Tour has made these counterclaims in a transparent effort to divert attention from their anti-competitive conduct.

"We remain confident that the courts and the justice system will right these wrongs."

FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy – who has been a staunch critic of the LIV series – declared golf was "ripping itself apart" earlier on Thursday, as the bitter divide between the two circuits shows no signs of healing.

One day earlier, McIlroy called on LIV players to do more to foster a sense of reconciliation between the tours, declaring: "The ball is in their court".

Rory McIlroy believes "golf is ripping itself apart right now" as the battle between the PGA Tour and the LIV Golf Invitational Series rages on.

The introduction of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf has caused a huge divide in the sport, with big names such as Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau defecting from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf.

The storm has also seen some defectors file lawsuits against the PGA Tour after it banned those who made the switch to LIV Golf from playing in its events.

And McIlroy, who has remained fiercely loyal to the PGA Tour, sees the dispute as harmful for players on both sides of the divide, telling reporters: "I don't want a fractured game. I never have.

"You look at some other sports and what's happened and the game of golf is ripping itself apart right now.

"It's no good for the guys on, you know, this side or the sort of traditional system and it's no good for the guys on the other side, either.

"It's no good for anyone. There is a time and a place for it. I just think right now, with where everything is, it's probably not the right time.

"I've always said I think there is a time and a place where everyone that's involved here should sit down and try to work together. It's very hard for that to happen right now when there's two lawsuits going on."

McIlroy already said on Wednesday that it fell upon LIV Golf players to take the lead on repairing relations between the two tours.

"I would just say the ball is in their court," McIlroy told the BBC.

"If they want to come to the table and try to play nicely within the sandbox that's already created, the opportunity is there."

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