Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes
Feb 27 2024
- 5 MIN
Stinger GC set for Jeddah

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia – Stinger Golf Club can be forgiven for heading into this week's LIV Golf Jeddah at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, the all-South African combination will have high hopes after a 2023 LIV Golf League campaign highlighted by a team victory in Tulsa, a runner-up spot and four third-place finishes in 13 starts. They will also be heartened by the form shown last week by their captain, Louis Oosthuizen, who finished second at International Series Oman on Sunday after going into the final round tied for the lead.

On the other hand, though, the Stingers will feel some pressure to bounce back from their disappointing 12th place finish in their most recent outing - at LIV Golf Las Vegas earlier this month. 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.

All that after the Stingers had launched their year in very promising fashion. At the season-opening LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico, they contested strongly for a podium finish before settling for fifth place while Dean Burmester made an impressive run at the individual title before ending up in third spot.

Adding to the pressure that the Stingers will be feeling this week is the fact that they did not fare well at Royal Greens last October when they failed to secure a first-round bye for the season-ending Team Championship in Miami.

They had arrived in Jeddah occupying fourth spot in the season-long team standings but, by the time the final round was over, they ended up fifth after being dislodged by RangeGoats GC in the hunt for that valuable bye. As for the team standings in Jeddah, the Stingers ended up in ninth spot, certainly a letdown after finishing third, third, third and eighth in their previous four LIV Golf starts.

For Burmester, the biggest challenge in Jeddah last October was the heat.

"That was probably the toughest test," said the 34-year-old who was born in Mutare, Zimbabwe. "The wind is obviously one thing, coming off the sea like it does on some of the holes. That's pretty tricky. But the heat, it's a marathon here and everybody has just got to kind of try and get through it and figure out what they're going to do."

This week, Oosthuizen will be looking to maintain the superb form he produced in Oman where he carded rounds of 71, 66, 67 and 69 at Al Mouj Golf, on the Muscat coastline, to finish alone in second place at 15-under.

"I am hitting it very well," said the smooth-swinging Oosthuizen, winner of the 2010 Open Championship who has also been a runner-up in six other majors and finished third in two more. "I am still struggling a bit on the greens, finding the right lines ... my speed and lines aren't matching up ... but, with the greens as good as they are, it was a good test."

Oosthuizen went into Sunday's final round in Oman tied for the lead with Mexico's Carlos Ortiz who went on to triumph by four shots after reeling off seven birdies in nine holes, starting from the sixth.

"I didn't really hit it close enough and, when I was close enough, I couldn't make the putts," said Oosthuizen, who won back-to-back tournaments co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour in Africa last December. "I had a solid round, placed nicely, but not good enough."

Oosthuizen will be looking to lead by example this week in Jeddah where the Stingers will aim to underline their credentials as one of the most consistent teams in LIV Golf. Last year, they were able to celebrate a team victory in Tulsa before ending the season placed fifth in the final team points standings.

"We were up there as the most solid team for the year, us and probably the 4Aces," said Burmester. "Unfortunately, we didn't rack up enough points when we had the opportunities ... we should have finished second a couple of times but we ended up with thirds, and a couple of other things. Hopefully we can just get a few more 'W's this season."