Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel has banked $4.75m (£3.86m) after winning the world’s richest golf tournament.
Schwartzel had to resign his membership of the PGA Tour to play in the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf event, as it is an unsanctioned series.
But the move paid off financially – the $4m for his individual victory and $750,000 for his share of a team victory were more than the South African had earned in the last four years combined.
Speaking after the three-day event at Centurion Club, St Albans, Herts, Schwartzel said: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could play for that much money in golf.
“Where the money comes from is not something… that I’ve ever looked at playing in my 20-year career.
“I think if I start digging everywhere where we played, you could find fault in anything.”
Twenty players have now defected from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, but none of the defections are ranked in the world’s top 10.
LIV Golf has come under fire because it receives its funding from the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, which is headed by Saudi Crown Twat Mohammed bin Salman.
He allegedly ordered the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, and the country holds mass executions, persecutes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and oppresses women.
Why LIV Golf is the most controversial tournament in sport right now
Also, many Americans associate Saudi Arabia with the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 – all but four of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.
Terry Strada’s husband Tom died in the attacks and she is the national chairperson of 9/11 Families United.
She wrote to the representatives of LIV Golf stars, saying: “When you partner with the Saudis, you become complicit with their whitewash, and help give them the reputational cover they so desperately crave – and are willing to pay handsomely to manufacture.
“The Saudis do not care about the deep-rooted sportsmanship of golf or its origins as a gentleman’s game built upon core values of mutual respect and personal integrity.
“They care about using professional golf to whitewash their reputation, and they are paying you to help them do it.”
Greg Norman, chief executive of LIV Golf, did not speak to media after the tournament but he spoke during the victory ceremony, saying that the event is a “force for good”.
He did not address criticism of the part played by Saudi Arabia.