Branden Grace surges on back nine to win LIV Golf Invitational event in Portland

South African shoots final round 65 to finish two strokes clear of Carlos Ortiz at Pumpkin Ridge

Branden Grace poses with the the trophy after winning the LIV Golf Invitational - Portland at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. Getty
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Branden Grace claimed a two-shot victory at the LIV Golf Invitational tournament in Portland on Saturday thanks to a back nine that contained five birdies from the South African.

The 34-year-old world No 128 in the world pulled level with Carlos Ortiz with a birdie at the 13th, then birdied the 15th, 16th and 17th at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club to secure the win in the second event of the series.

"This new format, everything is amazing and everybody is having a blast," Grace said after the win in the 54-hole event in which there is no cut and all 48 entrants earn some piece of a purse of more than $20 million. For winning the tournament, Grace collected $4m.

Grace carded a final-round 65 and finished two strokes in front of Mexico's Ortiz, who closed with a three-under par 69.

Two-time major-winner Dustin Johnson, at 17th in the world is the highest-ranked player so far to join the new series, started the day tied for the lead with Ortiz but finished tied for third with compatriot Patrick Reed on nine-under.

Johnson carded a one-under par 71 while former Masters champion Reed moved up with a five-under 67 that included a chip-in eagle at the 17th.

Grace had taken the outright lead with his birdie at 15 when his tee shot at 16 skipped through the fairway into a strip of rough alongside a cart path. His second shot went through the green, but he strengthened his grip on the lead by chipping in for birdie.

The team title went to the All-American quartet of Johnson, Reed, Talor Gooch and Pat Perez, each pocketing $750,000 in addition to their individual earnings.

The third LIV Golf event is scheduled for July 29-31 at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.

England's Paul Casey, ranked 26th in the world, revealed on Saturday he had signed up to make his LIV Golf debut there, but the turmoil sparked by the breakaway series promises to continue.

The PGA Tour issued suspensions seven members and former members who made their LIV Golf debuts in Portland, including Ortiz, Reed, four-time major-winner Brooks Koepka and former US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau.

And DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley slammed players – including Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood – who threatened legal action if the fines and suspensions imposed on them after they played the inaugural LIV Golf event in London weren't rescinded.

"Before joining LIV Golf, players knew there would be consequences if they chose money over competition," Pelley said.

The DP World Tour ultimately responded by upholding the fines and bans, the exclusion of LIV Golf players from next week's Scottish Open entry list proof of the tour's stance.

Updated: July 03, 2022, 5:23 AM