Thursday, May 30, 2024

Koepka and Smash GC hit the front at LIV Golf Singapore – Irish Golfer Magazine

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For the third time in the last 18 LIV Golf regular-season tournaments, Brooks Koepka will take a three-shot lead entering the final round, thanks to a brilliant 7-under 64 in Saturday’s rain-delayed second round at LIV Golf Singapore.

The previous two times the Smash GC captain has held that large of an advantage, he closed the deal in Orlando and Jeddah last year. Given that the five-time major champion has found his form as his PGA Championship title defense looms later this month, it will be a big challenge for his Singapore pursuers to catch him.

His Smash GC teammate Talor Gooch, the defending Singapore champion, described the task succinctly. “Hard,” he said.

But, he added, not impossible. “Winning golf tournaments is never easy,” Gooch said. “We all know that. Hopefully we can make it not easy on him. Hopefully I can make it not easy on him tomorrow.”

Koepka is at 12 under for the tournament, with Fireballs GC’s Abraham Ancer, Cleeks GC’s Adrian Meronk and the RangeGoats GC duo of Thomas Pieters and Matthew Wolff tied for second at 9 under. Four other players are another shot back – Gooch, Ripper GC’s Lucas Herbert and Marc Leishman, and HyFlyers GC’s Cameron Tringale.

If Koepka converts the three-shot lead into another victory, he will become the first LIV Golf player to win four individual tournaments. And he also has a chance to lift two trophies on Sunday if his Smash team can convert its one-shot lead over the Rippers into the team title.

Although he’s playing with plenty of confidence, Koepka is not taking anything for granted.

“Anything is possible,” he said. “Gooch is trailing. He plays this place pretty well. I’ve just got to go out and do what I do, and from there, you can get beat. I have no problem with that if I get beat. But I just want to go out and play good golf, and that’s all I want to do, especially leading into the PGA.”

That good golf was evident following the 4 hour, 45 minute weather delay that pushed the shotgun start back to the afternoon. After three pars to start his round, Koepka birdied the par-5 fourth when he threaded his second shot between a row of palm trees, his ball finishing just off the green.

That was the first of three consecutive birdies, and he finished his bogey-free round with four birdies in his last seven holes. A two-shot sequence seemed to epitomise his day – a 53-foot birdie putt on the 13th, then a near-ace on the 14th.

“Brooks was faultless today,” said Pieters, one of his playing partners Saturday with first-round leader Sebastián Muñoz. “I assume he’s going to do the same tomorrow, and it’s going to take a very low one from those of us behind him to win.”

“He’s comfortable being in the lead,” added Wolff, a former Smash teammate who was traded in the offseason to the RangeGoats. “He’s playing good. I think this golf course actually suits him really well. I’ll do what I can control, and other than that, just see what happens.”

Koepka has his wife Jena and 9-month-old son Crew in Singapore with him this week. It’s the third tournament that Crew has attended. The first was at LIV Golf Miami; the second was at the Masters. The father finished T45 both times.

“I was reminded of that on the way over here,” Koepka said. “Hopefully get a little better result.”

TEAM COUNTING SCORES

Standings and counting scores for Saturday’s second round of the team competition at LIV Golf Singapore. The three best scores from each team count in the first two rounds while all four scores count in the final round. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.

1. SMASH GC -23 (Koepka 64, Gooch 66, Kokrak 71; Rd. 2 score -12)

2. RIPPER GC -22 (Smith 65, Herbert 67, Leishman 67; Rd. 2 score -14)

3. RANGEGOATS GC -21 (Wolff 65, Pieters 67, Uihlein 70; Rd. 2 score -11)

T4. CLEEKS GC -20 (Meronk 66, Bland 68, Kaymer 69; Rd. 2 score -10)

T4. FIREBALLS GC -20 (Ancer 67, Garcia 68, Chacarra 69; Rd. 2 score -9)

6. LEGION XIII -17 (Hatton 68, Rahm 68, Vincent 68; Rd. 2 score – 9)

7. STINGER GC -14 (Oosthuizen 69, Burmester 70, Schwartzel 70; Rd. 2 score -4)

T8. CRUSHERS GC -13 (DeChambeau 66, Howell III 66, Lahiri 69; Rd. 2 score -12)

T8. HYFLYERS GC -13 (Mickelson 68, Tringale 68, Ogletree 71; Rd. 2 score -6)

T8. TORQUE GC -13 (Niemann 69, Muñoz 70, Pereira 70; Rd. 2 score -4)

11. 4ACES GC -12 (Varner III 67, Reed 68, Johnson 70; Rd. 2 score -8)

12. IRON HEADS GC -10 (Vincent 66, Na 70, Kozuma 72; Rd. 2 score -5)

13. MAJESTICKS GC -7 (Poulter 68, Stenson 68, Westwood 71; Rd. 2 score -6)

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