Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Apr 07 2024
- 5 MIN
Bland Cleeks Miami Recap

MIAMI - A final day at LIV Golf Miami that began with rich promise for Cleeks GC ended in disappointment as the all-European combination had to settle for ninth place out of 13 in the team standings.

After the second round at Trump National Doral, the Cleeks occupied fourth spot and, with the ever-reliable Richard Bland and new signee Adrian Meronk playing good golf, a rare podium spot was firmly in their sights.

However, both Bland and Meronk failed to capitalize after making good starts to the final round and the Cleeks had slipped five spots in the pecking order by the time the final putt of the day dropped.

Englishman Bland ended up in a tie for 14th after closing with a 73 and Poland professional Meronk placed 17th after signing off with a 74.

Faring even worse were captain Martin Kaymer, who returned a 76 to wind up joint 39th. The German former world number one ended the tournament level with Finland's Kalle Samooja, who carded a 77.

All this after the Cleeks had manoeuvred themselves up from joint seventh in the team standings after day one to fourth as they headed into the final round. Bland fired a 5-under 67 in the second round while Meronk carded a 66 and Samooja contributed a 73.

"The first eight holes, I just had it on a string," said Bland. "I couldn't hit it off line if I tried to. Then I kind of hit a poor tee shot on 12, and that just kind of knocked me out for a couple of holes. I kind of struggled down 12, 13 and 14, even though I birdied 12 but then I hit a good shot into 15 and that got me back on track. I shot 5-under, and I kind of feel like it could have been three or four better. But 5-under around here, you kind of take that before you go out."

Asked if the team's mindset was any different for the final round, Bland replied: "Not really. If we play well individually, the team takes care of itself. Obviously we were in there with a few to go in Hong Kong, and we're back in a good position again."

The Cleeks secured fifth spot at LIV Golf Hong Kong after moving into the lead for an extended time early in the final round before finally slipping back.

"It's great that with all the four scores that count now, anything can happen. If Kalle and Martin can get hot and me and Adrian can carry on, then the Cleeks are going to be in there down the stretch. That's what we want."

However, Sunday did not pan out as successfully as Bland and his team mates had hoped.

Meronk began the final round three strokes off the pace and he birdied his first hole, the par-4 second, to get to 7-under. He then offset a bogey at the third with a birdie at the fourth before picking up another shot at the 10th to get to 8-under. However, he was never able to build on that and ended his round with three consecutive bogeys.

"My second-round 66 was very satisfying, I was just disappointed today with my finish," said new LIV Golf player Meronk, who was a late signee just before the season-opener in Mayakoba. "I was very happy yesterday with my game but I just didn't have it today."

Asked what the Cleeks needed to do secure a first team victory in the LIV Golf League, Meronk replied: "We just need to be more consistent. We have some good rounds, but really the Sundays are killing us so far, so hopefully we will get a better Sunday. We were close this week, and we are very capable of getting into a good position. We just need to focus on a better finish next time."