Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Feb 28 2024
- 5 MIN
Cleeks GC has good vibes entering Jeddah

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia – There is nothing quite like familiarity and good vibes for a golfer - and the Cleeks have that in spades as they prepare for this week's LIV Golf Jeddah at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.

Just over four months ago, Cleeks GC enjoyed its best week of the 2023 LIV Golf season at Royal Greens where the all-European combination secured its first ever podium spot with a sizzling display of team golf in the final round.

Austrian Bernd Weisberger and Ulsterman Graeme McDowell both signed off with sizzling 7-under 63s, in-form Englishman Richard Bland closed with a 66 and captain Martin Kaymer carded a 70 as the team earned their seventh top-10 of the season, and their fifth in a row.

Their three counting scores delivered an 18-under total, the best of any of the 12 teams in the final round. Hardly surprisingly, Kaymer was not at all unhappy that he was the worst scorer in Jeddah on that Sunday.

"That's a very good sign when we shoot 18-under par as a team, and that's what you need in match play," said the 39-year-old German. "You need a lot of birdies. It's important knowing that you can do that.

"What the Cleeks did (last October) was very impressive, shooting those low scores on that Sunday to get on the podium for the first time. Obviously, we go into this week with more confidence than if we would not have performed the way we did in Jeddah last year."

The Cleeks lineup has changed significantly since last year’s LIV Golf Jeddah with Weisberger and McDowell being replaced during the offseason by 2023 DP World Tour Player of the Year Adrian Meronk of Poland and Finland's Kalle Samooja.

While the new-look roster has not exactly set the golf world alight in the first two LIV Golf events of 2024, Kaymer and company have certainly shown enough signs that a much more successful season now lies ahead of them compared to last year.

After the first eight LIV Golf events of 2023, Cleeks GC had racked up five 12th-place finishes, along with just two top-10s. Then came the team's strong finish to the regular season as they went 6-7-9-9 before ending with a flourish by placing third on the team leaderboard at LIV Golf Jeddah.

This year, they have finished eighth (at LIV Golf Mayakoba) and ninth (at LIV Golf Las Vegas) in their first two starts, although perhaps the most encouraging sign for them was the impressive form produced by Meronk at Las Vegas Country Club.

Recruited by the Cleeks shortly before the start of this season, Meronk struggled in his opening event after suffering food poisoning in Mexico. He was the only Cleeks player to endure a challenging week in Mayakoba as he wound up in 47th spot.

One week later in Las Vegas was, however, a very different story. The 30-year-old Polish professional opened with a sparkling 3-under 67 and then followed up with successive scores of 68 - the last of them achieved on a difficult day for scoring in strong winds.

Meronk's individual statistics during that week made impressive reading. He tied for fourth in fairways hit (with 29), ranked fifth for greens in regulation (with 43) and tied for eighth for birdies (with a total of 14).

All this after his teammate Richard Bland had predicted much better things for the Pole after his frustrating experience in Mexico: "We all know what Adrian can do. He's world class, and I think he's going to have a great year."

An upward trajectory for Meronk, a much better collective start to the 2024 season than last year, great vibes heading into Jeddah - the stars certainly seem to be aligning for the Cleeks this week.