Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Apr 30 2024
- 4 MIN
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SENTOSA ISLAND, Singapore – When the Stingers last played competitive golf on The Serapong at Sentosa Golf Club, they finished a disappointing 10th in the team standings at the 2023 LIV Golf Singapore.

This week, however, is likely to be a very different story as the all-South African combination returns to the Southeast Asian island nation after producing superb golf last week at LIV Golf Adelaide.

Stinger GC produced the lowest collective score in the final round at The Grange Golf Club with a 24-under total before agonizingly being beaten in a playoff for the team title by the all-Australian Rippers.

While that experience was dispiriting for the Stingers, they will arrive at Sentosa Golf Club with high hopes and plenty of confidence.

"It feels like everybody is playing well, even Branden (Grace) put two great rounds together in Adelaide," said 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel. "Yeah, we're in a good space."

Grace has surprisingly been the weakest link for the Stingers so far this season, and occupies 48th spot in the individual points standings after producing a best finish of 15th in six starts.

However, in Adelaide, he carded rounds of 3-under 69 and 68 over the weekend to help the Stingers catch the Rippers at 53-under in the team standings before they lost out on the second hole of LIV Golf's first ever team playoff.

Schwartzel, team captain Louis Oosthuizen and long-hitting Dean Burmester all finished in the top-three spots at The Grange - proof positive, if any was needed, that the Stingers are firing on all cylinders at the moment.

Oosthuizen made a sizzling start to the final round with three birdies in his first five holes en route to a 7-under 65 and second place at 17-under, one stroke behind HyFlyers GC's triumphant Brendan Steele.

Schwartzel was the best of the Stinger GC players on day three, firing a bogey-free 64 which rocketed him up the leaderboard into a five-way tie for third at 16-under. Level with Schwartzel was Burmester, who closed with a 67 in his first start since winning LIV Golf Miami in early April.

"Everybody played really well in Adelaide," said Schwartzel. "It could have gone our way down the first playoff hole, but that's how playoffs go. It was a great week, and such a pleasure to play in front of so many people.

"The Rippers obviously felt the pressure more than we did. They wanted really badly to play well in front of their home fans, and they did. The Rippers stepped up and the Stingers stepped up, and it was very exciting."

In pursuit of their first team victory this year, the Stingers then lost out to the Rippers in the playoff. Oosthuizen and Burmester each had tricky birdie chances from inside 10 feet on the first extra hole, the par-4 18th, but both attempts slid past the cup. The team crown was then decided on the next hole, also the 18th, after both Oosthuizen and Burmester had ended up in the back left bunker with their approach shots.

Oosthuizen and company now turn their attention to Sentosa Golf Club where last year they collectively produced five scores in the sixties over the three days of competition, but that was not good enough for success after a week of low scoring on The Serapong.

Captain Oosthuizen performed best, securing 18th place at 8-under 205, but Schwartzel (34th spot), Burmester (42nd) and Grace (43rd) all ended up in the bottom third on the individual leaderboard.

Despite those statistics, though, Schwartzel believes that the par-71 layout with its fast, challenging greens and trademark contours sets up well for the Stingers.

"We've played there many times," said the 39-year-old from Johannesburg who will forever remain in the history books as LIV Golf's first individual tournament champion, having won the inaugural 2022 event in London. "Even before LIV days we played Sentosa a lot. You've got to play well here. It's a course that's very unforgiving, but we're all playing well so that's good for us."

For Burmester, it all comes down to the entire team clicking in the final round - just as they did in Adelaide last week.

"On Sundays, with all four (scores) counting now, there are so many variabilities and there can be so many changes in a short space of time," he said. "So, if all four of us can put in a good round on Sunday, then we will be up there. All four guys are playing well enough to contend any week so as long as we can put consistent rounds together on Sunday, then we will have a chance."