CLEEKS SECURE FIRST PODIUM FINISH IN JEDDAH; WIESBERGER AVOIDS RELEGATION
KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia – There is nothing like finishing with a flourish and the all-European Cleeks certainly did that in the final round of LIV Golf Jeddah presented by ROSHN as they secured their first podium spot this year.
Bernd Wiesberger and Richard Bland had extra reason to celebrate after the regular-season finale, but all four players played well on the final day at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club as the Cleeks wound up in third place on the team leaderboard - their seventh top-10 of the season, and fifth in a row.
Austrian Wiesberger was the standout player for Cleek GC on Sunday, reeling off seven birdies in a flawless 7-under 63 to vault into 11th place at 8-under and avoid regulation from the LIV Golf League. He had arrived in Jeddah right on the bubble as the last player in the Open Zone (25th-44th) in the individual standings, but his superb closing round lifted him into 41st spot.
Richard Bland also ended his week in Jeddah at 8-under, firing a 66 with six birdies to cement his place in the Lock Zone for next season. The top 24 in individual points are guaranteed spots in next year's LIV Golf League and Bland comfortably secured his status as he ended up 20th in the standings.
"To be able play against DJ (Dustin Johnson) and Brooks (Koepka) and Bryson (DeChambeau) and Cam (Smith) 14 times a year just makes me better whereas before I might have played them once a year in a major or perhaps if they came to the DP World Tour," said Bland, who competed mainly on the European Tour before joining the LIV Golf League. "I've just got to bring my best game every tournament and I'm really proud of myself that I've managed to do that the last three or four months."
Englishman Bland had arrived in Jeddah with a high probability of securing his Lock Zone status for next season. He had finished 6th, 3rd, 11th and 9th in his four previous LIV Golf starts and at that point he sat 20th in the season-long standings.
"I've played pretty solid most of the year," said the 50-year-old from Burton-on-Trent. "I love to compete no matter what. Yeah, I'm at a disadvantage length-wise. I know that. But there's other places, other areas of my game, where I can be better than others. It's the old cliche, you've just got to focus on yourself, one shot at a time."
Cleeks captain Martin Kaymer signed off on Sunday with an even 70 that included four birdies and four bogeys to finish 28th at 6-under 204. That was his best result of the year in 10 starts after missing the first three LIV Golf events of 2023 while recuperating from offseason wrist surgery.
One spot back was Ulsterman Graeme McDowell who produced his best form of the week in the final round at Royal Greens, mixing eight birdies with a lone bogey on the way to a sizzling 7-under 63 and a 5-under total.
The Cleeks will now head to Miami for next week’s Team Championship with a collective spring in their step and looking to maintain the superb form they produced in Jeddah.