Written by
Written by Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Jun 17 2024
- 4 MIN
Cleeks Win Houston

NASHVILLE, Tennessee - With just one win, everything can change. That certainly applies to Cleeks GC.

Boosted by their first-ever team victory at LIV Golf Houston earlier this month, the Cleeks head into this week's LIV Golf Nashville with revised goals for the rest of this season.

Going into the final round at the Golf Club of Houston, the Cleeks trailed the pacesetting Fireballs GC by five shots but all four players produced inspired golf over the last nine holes to secure the title by two strokes over Smash GC and the Fireballs.

That long-awaited success lifted the all-European combination to seventh in the points standings - less than 30 points outside third place, which is the final seed to earn a first-round bye for the season-ending Team Championship to be played at Maridoe Golf Club in Texas from September 20-22.

Starting with this week's event at The Grove, there are just five tournaments left in the regular season and the Cleeks have readjusted their objectives.

"Our goal has changed all of a sudden," said Cleeks captain Martin Kaymer. "If you would have asked me three or four weeks ago, is top five realistic going into Dallas, I would have said, 'Yes, it's always realistic, but it's going to be a very, very difficult path to get there.' In Singapore, we did well (they tied for second) and in Houston we did well.

"Now the goal has changed to try to get into the top three spots because it doesn't really matter if you finish fourth or 13th. Top three is the new goal. Now is the time we need to keep pushing. We only have two-and-a-half months left of the year for the LIV events, so we need to keep grinding. We need to make a proper push to give ourselves a good chance to finish in the top three."

Based on their form in the last two tournaments, the Cleeks have every chance of securing that top-three spot. Their runner-up spot in Singapore, where LIV Golf Promotions winner Kalle Samooja led the way as he closed with a sparkling 7-under 64, was their best-ever team finish. They had previously placed third in Bangkok in 2022 and also in Jeddah last year.

In Houston, they went one better after the team collectively caught fire over the final nine holes. Kaymer birdied five of six, Samooja birdied three of five, Adrian Meronk reeled off three consecutive birdies and Richard Bland birdied two straight. They finished at 33 under to clinch their first-ever LIV Golf trophy.

"It's such a great feeling to experience that for the first time," Kaymer said of the team's first taste of a LIV Golf champagne celebration. "You watch the guys, 14 times last year, eight times in 2022, and you watch it on YouTube when you're in the car going back to the hotel, it feels [bad]. We didn't even get close. Now for the first time this year, we have good chances, and we could win this thing (the Team Championship).

"It's nice that we keep pushing each other, and I think hopefully for the next six events that we have to play, we can continue doing that, and then we can have a good winter. But until then, it feels good in the spot where we're at right now," added Kaymer, who tied for 64th at last week's U.S. Open after shooting rounds of level-par 70, 73, 77 and 73.

This week, the Cleeks will be navigating a new LIV Golf destination in Nashville and a new layout in the par-71 Grove, which has gained a reputation as one of the best private golf courses in Middle Tennessee.

Meronk, the 2023 DP World Tour Player of the Year, will be looking to improve on his 12th place in the season-long individual standings and also on his runner-up spot in Houston two weeks ago. At the Golf Club of Houston, he dueled for the title with Torque GC's Carlos Ortiz for most of the back nine before slipping back over the last three holes.

"Carlos played really great, really solid," said Meronk, who closed with a 4-under 68 in Houston. "He really deserved it. I hope I can get him next time."