Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Mar 04 2024
- 4 MIN
Stinger GC battle in Jeddah

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia – The Stingers came tantalizingly close to delivering a triumphant response to their disappointing 12th place finish at LIV Golf Las Vegas last month before having to settle for a runner-up spot at LIV Golf Jeddah on Sunday.

The all-South African combination went into the final day at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club with a seven-stroke lead in the team standings but they ran into a buzz saw in the shape of Crushers GC, who collectively posted an astonishing 20-under total in round three.

That earned the Crushers a winning score of 38-under with Stinger GC finishing second, just four shots adrift.

"20 under, given the conditions today, they way they played, you can't do anything against that," said Stingers captain Louis Oosthuizen, who matched his best individual result as a LIV golfer. "It was tough out there. It was really tough. I think a good team score today I would have said would probably be 10 (under). To shoot 20-under like they did, there's not much you can do against that."

While the Stingers could only applaud the stellar display by the Crushers, they can certainly reflect on a highly successful week in Jeddah. The team produced superb golf to secure their first podium finish of the season with Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel tying for second place on the individual leaderboard.

"We played well," said Oosthuizen, who signed off with a 3-under 67 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."

Schwartzel was delighted to wind up level with Oosthuizen at 13-under - four strokes behind winner Joaquin Niemann of Torque GC - after finishing at the bottom of the leaderboard in a tie for 53rd after his previous LIV Golf start in Las Vegas.

"It was nice to play well," said the 39-year-old, who shot a 68 on Sunday. "I was very happy that I drove it better. Joaco played really good today, and I didn't have enough good chances, but I was very happy the way I drove it. That's a big improvement."

It was Schwartzel's best LIV Golf finish since he won the inaugural London event during the 2022 beta-test season.

Long-hitting Dean Burmester finished in a tie for 15th after closing with a 69, level with Branden Grace who carded a 71. With all four scores counting in the final round, the Stingers were collectively 5-under for the day as they posted a 34-under total for the week.

Grace led the field for the week in fairways hit (69%) and greens in regulation (83%), Burmester ranked first in driving distance (with a 334.2 yard average) while Burmester and Schwartzel were tied first for scrambling (with 88%).

All in all, an excellent riposte for the Stingers after they had suffered a rare misstep in the previous LIV Golf event in chilly Las Vegas where they finished second-from-bottom - a distant 38 shots behind the winning Smash GC.

"I don't think we four guys perform well when it's that cold," Oosthuizen said of his team's performance in Las Vegas where temperatures hovered in the low 50s F during the week. "We were talking about it. It's quite a different feeling making a golf swing with everything on in my golf bag. I think we sort of forgot about Vegas pretty quickly."

Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, was more than happy to put memories of that week in Las Vegas well back in his rear-view mirror.

"I've got a memory like a goldfish," he said, sparking laughter. "What happened in Vegas? Vegas is one to forget for me ... We didn't do very good in Vegas. The weather was too cold for us. We're in much better spirits right now."

Boosted by their good form in Jeddah, the Stingers will now head to Hong Kong for this week’s LIV Golf event with plenty of confidence and a collective spring in their step.