STINGERS COMPLETE 3-0 WIN OVER IRON HEADS; DRAW TORQUE IN SEMIS
MIAMI – Stinger GC captain Louis Oosthuizen led by example before his team completed a 3-0 victory over the 12th-seeded Iron Heads in Friday's opening match-play Quarterfinal round at the LIV Golf Team Championship.
Oosthuizen never trailed before wrapping up a commanding 5 & 3 win against Kevin Na while Branden Grace had a tougher task on his hands against Zimbabwe's Scott Vincent - who sealed a 2 and 1 victory with a birdie on the the 14th hole.
In the foursomes action, Dean Burmester and Charl Schwartzel came back from 2 down early on against Sihwan Kim and Danny Lee to prevail 2 and 1 and earn the fifth-seeded Stingers a match up with the third-seeded Torque GC, in Saturday's Semifinal round at Trump National Doral.
"We played really well today," said Oosthuizen. "Charl and Dean came back nicely with their game and Branden had a fight the whole day with Scott Vincent, who is playing good golf at the moment. It was a good fun match today, but I am looking forward to Joaco (Niemann) and his team tomorrow."
On Saturday, captain Oostuizen will play against Niemann, Grace comes up against Sebastián Munoz and the foursomes contest will pit Dean Burmester and Charl Schwartzel against Mito Pereira and David Puig.
"It's going to be fun tomorrow with the two of us playing against each other," Oosthuizen said of his match against Niemann. ""The two of us will have a good time. I've got a lot of respect for what he's achieved in his short career, and hopefully I can just be a little bit of a hurdle tomorrow in his week. It should be a lot of fun.
"I'll call in his caddie for a favor because he's a South African, so maybe his caddie can be a real South African tomorrow, give him a few wrong clubs there," Oosthuizen added with a grin.
The Stingers will certainly go into Saturday's Semifinal with high hopes and looking to feed off good memories from last year when they finished fourth in the season-ending Team Championship after both Oosthuizen and Schwartzel shot 1-under 71s on the final day.
On Friday, everything went more or less to plan and Oosthuizen in particular was impressive.
He took early control against Na with birdies at the par-3 15th, their opening hole, and also at the par-4 2nd to go 2 up. Na then carded a double-bogey at the par-4 3rd to go 3 down.
With Na not playing his best, Oostuizen birdied the par-3 4th and then won the 5th with a par to surge 5 up. Although Oostuizen bogeyed the par-5 10th to trim his lead to 4 up, he sealed the victory after Na bogeyed the par-4 11th.
Grace had a much tougher battle on his hands against Vincent, who has won three times on the Japan Golf Tour and once on the Asian Tour.
"He has had a pretty good career out in Asia, and he can obviously play," said Grace.
Both players birdied the opening hole, the par-4 16th, before Vincent went 1 up when his opponent bogeyed the par-4 17th after his tee shot ended up in a bunker. However, Grace leveled the match when Vincent bogeyed the par-4 2nd.
The next four holes were halved before Vincent birdied the par-4 seventh to go 1up. Grace birdied the par-5 10th to get back to all square and then edged 1 up after Vincent missed a six-foot putt to bogey the par-4 11th. Although Grace stumbled with a bogey at the par-5 12th for the match to get back to all square, he won the 13th and 14th to wrap up the win.
In the foursomes match, the Iron Heads raced 2 up against the Stingers with a birdie at the par-4 17th, the opening hole of the match, and a par-4 at the 18th. However, the Stingers clawed their way back to all square after the Iron Heads lost both the par-4 3rd and par-4 5th with bogeys, and then went 1 up with a par at the sixth.
The next two holes were halved before the Stingers won the ninth with a par 3 to go 2 up. Both teams made a mess of the par-5 10th where the Iron Heads won with a bogey to reduce the deficit to 1 down. The Stingers won the 13th with a par 3 and the next two holes were halved with pars for the all-South African team to seal a 2 and 1 win.
Oosthuizen is now banking on his team maintaining that momentum against Torque GC on Saturday.
"We really want to give a good push to the end," Oosthuizen said of his team’s intent in the final event of the 2023 LIV Golf League season where $50 million in prize money is on the line.