DISAPPOINTING WEEK IN VEGAS COMES TO END FOR STINGERS
LAS VEGAS – Stinger GC had high hopes heading into LIV Golf Las Vegas after a strong start to the 2024 season at Mayakoba, but the all-South African combination ended its week in the Mojave Desert on a surprising low after struggling to contend with strong winds in Saturday's final round.
All four players returned above-par scores on another cold day at Las Vegas Country Club as the Stingers ended up in 12th spot out of 13 in the team standings with a 5-over total.
Long-hitting Dean Burmester produced the team's best score of the day, mixing two bogeys with a sole birdie at the par-5 first to card a 1-over 71. That left him level overall in a share of 39th place. While Burmester's ball-striking was impressive all week despite the tricky conditions, his Achilles heel was putting and he ended the tournament ranked joint 48th in that category with a total of 92 putts.
Branden Grace, who had opened strongly with scores of 69 and 5-under 65 at Las Vegas Country Club, signed off with a 72 on Saturday to secure the team's highest spot on the individual leaderboard, tying for 21st place at 4-under.
However, team captain Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel both wound up well down the standings after failing to spark in the final round.
Oosthuizen ran up a double-bogey at the 18th, his seventh hole of the day, before making his only birdie at the first. He also bogeyed the seventh and the 11th to card a 3-over 73, finishing in 50th spot at 3-over. Interestingly, Oosthuizen ended the week ranked joint second in fairways hit (with 32) but he languished stone-last for greens in regulation (with 29).
Schwartzel struggled badly on Saturday in the windy conditions. He ran up a quadruple-bogey on his opening hole, the par-4 14th, then followed up with a double at the par-5 15th. His roller-coaster round continued with four more bogeys, another double (at the par-4 seventh) and two bogeys as he completed a 10-over 80 that left him at the bottom of the leaderboard in a tie for 53rd at 10-over.
All this after the Stingers had started the 2024 LIV Golf League in very promising fashion. At last week's season-opening LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico, they contested strongly for a podium finish before settling for fifth place while Burmester made an impressive run at the individual title before ending up in third spot.
While Las Vegas was certainly a collective disappointment for the Stingers, they know full well that they are one of the most consistent teams in LIV Golf and they can be expected to bounce back when the third event of this season, LIV Golf Jeddah, takes place from March 1-3 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.
Last year, the Stingers were able to celebrate a team victory in Tulsa, a runner-up spot and four third-place finishes in 13 starts before ending the season fifth in the final team points standings. Their fans will be betting on something very similar in 2024.