Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Mar 07 2024
- 4 MIN
Schwartzel Hong Kong

HONG KONG – After making a bipolar start to the 2024 LIV Golf League and then coming desperately close to victory in Jeddah last week before losing steam, Stinger GC heads into this week's LIV Golf Hong Kong with great expectations.

Captain Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel tied for second place on the individual leaderboard in Jeddah where the team had to settle for second place, so current form is most certainly not an issue for the all-South African combination.

The only blip for Oosthuizen and company was their hot-cold start to 2024.

They launched their year in very promising fashion: contesting strongly for a podium finish at the season-opening LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico before ending up in fifth place while long-hitting Dean Burmester made an impressive run at the individual title before ending up in third spot.

However, just one week later in unexpectedly chilly conditions in Las Vegas, the Stingers misfired on their way to 12th place out of 13 – the worst result in their LIV Golf history. All four players returned above-par scores in the final round on a cold, wind-swept day at Las Vegas Country Club where the team ended up second-to-last with a 5-over total.

The fact that they bounced back to their customary form in Jeddah was certainly heartening, although that was tinged with some disappointment. After all, they had led the team standings by seven strokes heading into the final round before they were blown away by Crushers GC, who collectively posted an astonishing 20-under total in round three.

Overall, though, the Stingers are in very good shape. Oosthuizen (5), Schwartzel (T8) and Burmester (13) are all inside the top 15 in the season-long individual points race and the all-South African combination is prospering in several statistical categories. They lead in scrambling, rank fifth in driving distance, are joint sixth in fairways hit and rank sixth for greens in regulation.

Add to that the new LIV Golf League policy this year whereby all four scores count in the final round and Stingers are very happy so far with how they have adjusted.

"We were talking about that a few weeks ago with the new format being four scores to count," said Oosthuizen, winner of the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews. "All four players need to play well. I don't think there's a lead big enough if you have one or two guys struggling. But we are playing some good golf at the moment, the four of us."

Schwartzel also weighed in on the topic.

"The biggest thing with the team thing is you look at it, and it could change by three or four shots in the final round," said the 2011 Masters champion. "It's not like a single shot - like individual - with so many guys counting."

Although the 2024 season is still very young, the Stingers will feel that they are overdue a team victory after already coming close in both Mayakoba and Jeddah. There is no question that they possess both form and pedigree. Last year, they were able to celebrate team success in Tulsa, a runner-up spot and four third-place finishes in 13 starts.

"We played well in Jeddah," said Oosthuizen, who tied his best LIV Golf result by sharing second place with Schwartzel at Royal Greens. "The team did well, second. Our first top 3 for the season. Hopefully we can build on this and get a win somewhere. All four of us are playing pretty good."

Boosted by their impressive form in Jeddah, the Stingers are oozing confidence and have a collective spring in their step as they prepare for Friday's opening round on Hong Kong Golf Club's Fanling Course.