Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Mar 07 2024
- 4 MIN
Meronk Hong Kong preview

HONG KONG – For a second week in a row, the all-European Cleeks will be looking to their off-season signing Adrian Meronk for inspiration as they prepare for Friday's opening round at LIV Golf Hong Kong.

Meronk, the 2023 DP World Tour Player of the Year, has posted consecutive top-10 finishes in his last two starts and he arrives in Hong Kong having climbed five spots to 15th place in the season-long individual points standings.

The 30-year-old Polish professional strung together scores of 3-under 67, 68 and 68 in chilly, wind-swept conditions at LIV Golf Las Vegas to finish in a share of ninth place, then last week he tied for sixth at LIV Golf Jeddah, despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty in the final round for slow play.

Before the start of this season, Cleeks 'veteran' Richard Bland predicted that Meronk would be an inspirational figure for the all-European combination.

"We all know what Adrian can do," said the 51-year-old Englishman, who has the longest active streak in the LIV Golf League of counting rounds for his team (at 28). "He's world class, and I think he's going to have a great year."

Although Meronk did not make the most auspicious of starts with the Cleeks at the season-opening LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico, where he wound up in 47th spot after suffering food poisoning, he was greatly encouraged by his form in Jeddah.

"I'm feeling way better than my first two weeks," he said. "I had some quality practice time (before Jeddah) in Dubai and I'm happy where my game is. It's definitely a big difference from even Vegas."

Meronk fired a sparkling 8-under 62 to share the first-round lead in Jeddah with reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm before ending the tournament in a tie for sixth - the team's best individual result in 2024. The key to that round, he said, was his putting.

"I holed a lot of good putts but gave myself a lot of good chances," added Meronk, who is ranked joint 12th in putting for the 2024 LIV Golf League season. "Could have been lower. But, overall, the whole game was quite solid."

As for his strategy going forward, starting with Friday's opening round in Hong Kong, he plans to keep things simple.

"I won't change anything," said Meronk. "I'm going to play the same golf, same strategy. Nothing changes. Just do my same routine as I do every single week, and I hope it will be enough at the end of the tournament."

Apart from the expected inspiration from Meronk, the Cleeks may also benefit hugely this week from the venue. Hong Kong Golf Club's Fanling Course is the shortest course ever to host a LIV Golf event but it is also a layout that requires careful strategic thinking - especially with approach shots.

This should play into the hands of Meronk, Bland, team captain Martin Kaymer of Germany and Finland's Kalle Samooja, who collectively have flourished this season from tee to green. The Cleeks rank fourth in fairways hit and seventh for greens in regulation.

However, they also know that they need to improve in other areas. Cleek GC languishes 11th for scrambling, is tied 11th for putts and ranks 12th out of 13 for birdies.

"We definitely have high hopes," said former world number one Kaymer. "We have big expectations because we know what kind of golf we can play, and I definitely think we can compete. We all play good golf. We know what we can do on the golf course.

"We have a nice team element that is helping me and also inspiring me, having been out here (on tour) for 17, 18 years - whatever it is - to learn different ways of playing golf and seeing the game in a different way."