Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Mar 04 2024
- 4 MIN
Meronk in Jeddah

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia – Although the all-European Cleeks lost steam after making a sizzling start to LIV Golf Jeddah, the week ended up as a highly productive one for off-season signing Adrian Meronk.

The 2023 DP World Tour Player of the Year fired a sparkling 8-under 62 to share the first-round lead with reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm before ending the tournament in a tie for sixth - the team's best individual result in 2024.

Meronk carded successive rounds of 69 over the weekend at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club to post a 10-under total of 200, finishing seven strokes behind winner Joaquin Niemann of Torque GC.

Meronk's closing round would have been one shot better had he not been assessed a one-stroke penalty for "time exceeded" in accordance with the LIV Golf League Pace of Play Policy. The 30-year-old Polish professional took more than two minutes to play his second shot at the par-five 18th hole and his original score of four was consequently adjusted to a five.

Although the Cleeks had ended round one in a tie for sixth place in the team standings, largely because of Meronk's red-hot start, they were unable to maintain that momentum and finished the week in 11th spot out of 13 with a 12-under total.

All four players struggled to some extent in windy conditions for the final round. Apart from Meronk's closing 69, Richard Bland signed off with an even 70, captain Martin Kaymer returned a 71 and Finland's Kalle Samooja posted a 72.

The only Cleeks GC player to finish in the top half of the individual leaderboard was Meronk. Bland tied for 31st at 3-under, Kaymer wound up 45th at level par and Samooja shared 46th place at 1-over.

Meronk will certainly head to Hong Kong in upbeat mood for this week's LIV Golf event, mainly because of his scintillating form in round one at Royal Greens. Although he suffered a bogey on his second hole, he immediately bounced back with consecutive birdies and the highlight of his round was a chip-in for eagle at the par-4 10th.

"It was very solid," he said of his opening 62. "I didn't get off to a good start, like a hot start, but then towards the middle of the round and towards the end, I played quite nicely. I holed a lot of good putts, and it was just overall a very solid day.

"I just like the layout of this course, and I really enjoy playing here. It's always quite windy here but I just like the setup. It suits my eye and I think suits my game, as well."

Meronk had produced mixed results in his first two LIV Golf appearances. Recruited by the Cleeks shortly before the start of this season, he 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. Meronk 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.

Asked what had been the biggest difference in Jeddah from his first two LIV Golf starts, Meronk replied: "To be honest, I hit a lot of good putts. I holed a lot of good ones. Overall, I've been working on my pace a lot, and in Vegas it was great and here as well."

Meronk ended his week in Jeddah tied for second in putting (with a total of just 80).

"The striking quality was way better than in Vegas, so I'm pleased about that because I spent a lot of time during the last few weeks to work on it," he added. "I can see improvement already."

The Cleeks will certainly be hoping that this improvement continues for their star player over the coming weeks and months.