The first LIV Golf International Series went off Thursday with all the bells and whistles you would expect from an entity that has unlimited to funds to put on a show along with a golf tournament.
There were the Grenadier Guards, a faux version of the Buckingham Palace institution known as the Queen’s Guard, doing their duty in and around the Centurion Club.
There were the London cabs, staged perfectly outside the course to shuttle players to their respective tees for the shotgun start, a different format not typically seen at a professional tournament golf.
There were The Blades, a formation of planes zooming overhead as music blared and play got underway at exactly 2:15 p.m. local time.
Well, yes, about that start. The shotgun start. Schwartzel began his round on the 3rd tee. When he got there, he was the only one. Wade Ormsby and Graeme McDowell had yet to arrive.
The crowds were not nearly as big as you will see next week at The Country Club for the U.S. Open or at the this week’s RBC Canadian Open,
But it was similar to what you might witness on an early-morning telecast on Golf Channel of a European Tour (now DP World) event in some faraway locale, with a good number of spectators in prominent positions and a smattering elsewhere.
And there were some other familiar sights, such as Phil Mickelson hitting from the trees or Dustin Johnson standing over a missed putt or Kevin Na – sometimes – walking one in.
There was the seemingly effortless swing of Louis Oosthuizen, and the look of annoyance from Sergio Garcia and renewed good play of Schwartzel.
After a slow start, Mickelson settled down to play the back nine in 3 under par and shoot 69, trailing Schwartzel by four.