Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Jun 09 2024
- 4 MIN
Lucas Herbert Ripper recap

HUMBLE, Texas - For an hour or so on Sunday afternoon, it looked as though Ripper GC was on track for a rare third victory in a row as all four players made fast starts to the final round of LIV Golf Houston.

Matt Jones birdied three of his first four holes while Lucas Herbert, captain Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman all picked up three shots in their first seven to lift LIV Golf's hottest team into a tie for first place with Fireballs GC at 30-under.

Herbert apart, however, the Rippers failed to build on that momentum and the all-Australian combination tumbled back into 10th place with a final aggregate of 13-under. All this after they had arrived in the heat of Texas fresh from back-to-back successes at LIV Golf Adelaide and LIV Golf Singapore.

While Herbert ended a successful week at the Golf Club of Houston with a superb 69 that included five birdies to finish in a tie for sixth, Leishman placed 24th after returning a 70, Jones shared 39th spot after carding a 73 and Smith wound up joint 48th after struggling over his closing holes before signing for an 80.

"Obviously it didn't end the way we wanted to," said Herbert, a three-times DP World Tour winner who filled the roster spot left open before the start of this season after the relegation of Jediah Morgan. "But it's just hard when there's four players and everyone is playing a different level of game and stuff, whether they're not playing well or playing well.

"It's just hard to get it all to gel together. To win twice in a row was pretty impressive. Three in a row was asking a lot. It looked good there for a while, but unfortunately didn't come through for us."

Herbert was delighted with his own form over the three days on a challenging layout where the players also had to contend with grueling heat.

"I've done a lot of work this year on a bunch of stuff in my game, and it felt like it sort of came to a head today," he said after a round that began with two birdies in his first three holes.

"That was the best I've played all year, I think. Just the best because of everything ... the heat, tough golf course, the way I was playing over the weekend. The course got really firm and there were some tough golf shots. I dealt with it super well."

In pursuit of a third team victory in a row, the Rippers made a strong start to their week. Although Smith surprisingly failed to contribute a counting score, Leishman fired a 67, Jones a 68 and Herbert a 69 to earn the all-Australian combination a share of third place at the end of the opening round.

Jones and Herbert both went bogey-free while Herbert went a perfect 8 of 8 in scrambling to keep his scorecard clean. By the end of the day, Leishman was tied for sixth in the individual standings, Jones was joint 13th and Herbert was in a share of 15th place.

The Rippers lost a bit of ground on day two, slipping to joint sixth in the team standings. Herbert, who wore an ice vest all week due to the heat, was the best performer, shooting a six-birdie 68 to sit joint eighth after 36 holes. The other counting scores came from Smith, with 69, and Jones, who carded a 74.

Day three was initially a very different story as the Rippers came out guns blazing.

"I was watching the team leaderboard more than the individual leaderboard," said Herbert. "With the success we've had lately, we sent out a team text this morning. It was like, 'Come on, boys, let's get three in a row.' To start like that it was like, we're on here. It was very exciting."

However, the Rippers were collectively unable to build on that sizzling start and Smith in particular struggled over the closing holes as he finished double, double, double, triple.

"He's been struggling a little bit with his driver this week, but he will be trying to get stuff right for next week at Pinehurst," said Herbert, referring to next week's U.S. Open. "Sounds like he might not have had it right the last few holes.

"You know, that's just the way it is with team golf sometimes. There's been plenty of occasions through the year when our captain has led us pretty well. None of us are going to be too salty with him in the locker room once we get in."