Written by
Written by Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Jun 24 2024
- 5 MIN
Stinger Nashville

COLLEGE GROVE, Tenn. – A week that began with limited preparation for Louis Oosthuizen ended on a high note as the Stinger GC captain fired a superb 7-under 64 in the final round of LIV Golf Nashville.

Boosted by a run of four consecutive birdies from the par-4 16th at The Grove, Oosthuizen finished 13th in the individual standings (at 9-under) while leading his team to fifth place overall.

All this after Oosthuizen had to withdraw before the start of the second round in the previous event (LIV Golf Houston) due to a lower back injury, and had very little practice time before teeing off at The Grove on Friday.

"I've had this back issue for a long time ... it's a strange one, but I'm all good," said Oosthuizen, who ranked fourth in this season's Individual standings heading into Houston before he pulled out of the tournament on the second morning. "I was ready to go this week. I played Saturday last week, nine holes, and my back felt okay. Then I played with the boys on Tuesday, and it was all good."

Charl Schwartzel, who signed off with a five-birdie 67 at The Grove to share 25th place at 5-under, had always expected his team captain to rebound quickly from his Houston withdrawal.

"Louis has always had that little thing with his back," said Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion. "It's not the first time it's happened to him, and it's not serious. The good thing with him is he knows what it is, and when it comes, he doesn't push it. It pinches way down low in his back, it swells up, and it takes like three days for it to subside, and then he's better."

Schwartzel was the best Stingers player on day one at The Grove, mixing five birdies with three birdies on the way to an opening 69. Oosthuizen and Dean Burmester both carded 70s to earn the all-South African combination a share of sixth place in the team standings at 4-under.

The long-hitting Burmester then caught fire on day two with three birdies in his first five holes and an eagle at the drivable par-4 fourth before finishing with a sizzling 5-under 66 which lifted him into a tie for 10th in the individual standings. He ended the round leading the driving distance charts with an average of 345.4 yards.

Branden Grace produced his best round of the week on that second day, hitting 13 of 14 fairways on the way to a 68, while Oosthuizen carded a 70 as the Stingers dropped one spot in the team standings - into a tie for seventh.

Mainly thanks to the efforts of Oosthuizen and Schwartzel in Sunday's final round, Stinger GC improved two places by the time the tournament was over. Burmester and Grace both signed off with 1-over 72s, Burmester finishing level with Schwartzel in a share of 25th place and Grace winding up tied for 35th.

The Stingers now have two weeks off to prepare for the next event, the July 12-14 LIV Golf Andalucia at Real Club Valderrama, where they will look to improve on a somewhat hit-and-miss 2024 season.

In their first nine LIV Golf starts this year, they have clinched three podium finishes while they have also produced four results of ninth or worse.

Their best performance was a runner-up spot in Adelaide, where they were agonizingly beaten in a playoff for the title by Ripper GC, while their lowest moment came in Las Vegas, where they struggled in surprisingly cold temperatures before finishing 12th out of 13. The last time the Stingers tasted team victory was just over a year ago - at LIV Golf Tulsa in May 2023 - so they are long overdue success.

"All four of us just need to play well together on the Sunday, now that all four scores count," said Oosthuizen, who was runner-up this year in both Jeddah and Adelaide. "Obviously it's a little bit more pressure on everyone playing well and some days you force it and it doesn't happen and then other days it happens by itself. So, I think it's just a matter of having one tournament with a really good Sunday and sort of taking it from there."