Last updated on July 9th, 2023 at 08:39 AM
Cameron Smith and his Ripper GC squad find themselves among the quartet of teams in this LIV Golf League season that have yet to secure a podium finish.
However, this could all change for the Australian contingent as they stand poised to put an end to their drought at LIV Golf London, and quite possibly clinch their very first team trophy.
As the final round commences at the prestigious Centurion Club, the Rippers hold a slender one-shot advantage over the reigning London champions, Stinger GC. Moreover, Cameron Smith himself enjoys a comfortable three-shot lead on the individual leaderboard.
It’s worth noting that Smith already boasts an individual triumph in his LIV career, having emerged victorious last season in Chicago. Naturally, he yearns for a fellow teammate to join him on the podium, allowing them to complete a clean sweep of titles come Sunday.
“In our group chat, we’ve reiterated on numerous occasions the importance of surmounting the obstacles and dousing each other in champagne,” Smith shared, reflecting on his splendid 4-under 67 that propelled him to 12 under.
“I believe it would be an immensely enjoyable experience. Although there’s still work to be done individually, witnessing our team soar to the top of the leaderboard would be a sight to behold.”
Throughout the initial two days, Smith and his teammate Marc Leishman have shouldered the lion’s share of contributions. Leishman, currently part of the chasing pack tied for second at 9 under after a solid 69 on Saturday, has been an invaluable asset. Matt Jones, who matched Smith’s round with a 67, and Jediah Morgan, whose 69 paralleled Leishman’s counting score, round out the formidable Ripper GC quartet.
“If we prioritize the individual aspect, delivering exceptional performances collectively, the team accolades will naturally fall into place,” Leishman remarked. Playing alongside his captain for the second consecutive round, he added, “Hopefully, I can launch a formidable charge against Cam tomorrow and inject a sense of excitement into proceedings.”
Leishman won’t be the only one vying to chase down the imperious Smith, who has a date with destiny as he defends his Open Championship title in a mere two weeks at Royal Liverpool. Joining Leishman at 9 under are Stingers GC Captain Louis Oosthuizen and RangeGoats GC’s Thomas Pieters, with 4Aces GC’s Patrick Reed (-8) and Majesticks GC Co-Captain Henrik Stenson (-7) lurking not too far behind.
Without a doubt, the team competition promises to be a captivating spectacle in the final round. The South African Stingers began the day trailing the leaders by a considerable eight shots but quickly manoeuvred their way up the leaderboard on Saturday, courtesy of blazing starts from Oosthuizen and defending London individual champion Charl Schwartzel.
Oosthuizen magnificently soared to 7 under through his opening 10 holes, while Schwartzel matched his compatriot’s fiery pace by posting an impressive 7-under scorecard through 11 holes.
Dean Burmester also showcased his prowess, boasting a remarkable 5-under through his initial 14 holes. When Oosthuizen sealed an eagle on the par-5 13th, the Stingers effortlessly eclipsed the Rippers to assume the coveted top spot.
“There was a stretch there where I strung together a few birdies and an eagle, and I suspect Dean and Charl experienced a similar momentum,” Oosthuizen shared. “It’s truly astonishing how swiftly the leaderboards can shift when three scores are taken into account.”
However, as daylight waned and shadows grew longer, the leaderboard experienced yet another tectonic shift. The Stingers concluded their round on more challenging holes, while Smith and Leishman found themselves presented with numerous scoring opportunities.
Smith’s birdie on the par-5 18th, serving as a fitting conclusion to his round, not only bolstered his individual lead but propelled the Rippers to the summit of the 36-hole team standings.
“It’s heartening to witness Leish and myself perched atop the leaderboard,” Smith expressed with satisfaction. “I’m aware that our other two teammates are leaving no stone unturned to elevate our team score, and hopefully, tomorrow we can exhibit our true mettle.”