The big-hitting American is the latest big name after Dustin Johnson to join the LIV Golf Invitational Series, whose first event began to much fanfare at St Albans, near London, on Thursday.

Norman, who is expected to sign more players ahead of the second event in Portland, Oregon, which begins on June 30, said: "Bryson DeChambeau is an exciting addition to LIV Golf's supercharged style of play.

"He is passionate about the sport, innovative in his approach and committed to pushing the boundaries in pursuit of excellence.

"He's not afraid to think outside the box and supports our mission of doing things differently to grow our game.

"The power and energy he brings to the course will deliver added electricity to our competition in Portland and beyond."

Charl Schwartzel has built a substantial lead at the opening LIV event in England. PHOTO: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images.

DeChambeau officially joined the PGA Tour in 2017 and spent the last two years in the top-10.

However, he has slipped to 28th after having surgery on his left hand, an injury that ruled him out of the PGA Championship.

He has played in the last two Ryder Cups for the United States but in joining the exodus to LIV he is jeopardising his place in next year's match in Italy at stake as there are currently no ranking points for the new series.

His place in next week's U.S. Open is safe as he has a 10-year exemption.

DeChambeau had previously been linked to the breakaway circuit but said in February that "as long as the best players in the world are playing the PGA Tour, so will I".

The 28-year-old, whose prodigious length off the tee has raised concerns about whether he is pushing his body too hard, follows former World No.1 Johnson.

Minutes after the first shots were struck on Thursday, the PGA Tour suspended all 17 players in the field.

"He's not afraid to think outside the box and supports our mission of doing things differently to grow our game." - Greg Norman.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan added: "The same fate holds true for any other players who participate in future Saudi Golf League events in violation of our regulations."

PGA Tour winner Pat Perez was also reported to have signed with LIV Golf overnight.

On the course, Charl Schwartzel shot a four-under 66 to take a three-shot lead over fellow South African Hennie Du Plessis in the fight for the $4m (A$5.7m) individual first prize.

The 54-hole event will be decided on Saturday. Both players are on the Stinger team which is leading the way to share a $3m (A$4.25m) purse for the best four-man team.

Australia's Wade Ormsby and Jed Morgan are among five players tied for 21st place, on three-over-par.

Matt Jones and Travis Smyth (four-over), Kevin Yuan (five-over) and Blake Windred (10-over) complete the six-strong Australian contingent.