Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Feb 27 2024
- 5 MIN
Ripper GC set for Jeddah

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia – After producing a mixed bag of results in the first two LIV Golf events of the year, Ripper Golf Club will have their sights set on bouncing back to their customary form at this week's LIV Golf Jeddah.

Captain Cameron Smith has played impressive enough golf in 2024. He tied for eighth at the season-opening LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico and then opened with scores of 67 and 66 at LIV Golf Las Vegas before losing steam in the final round on the way to a share of 15th place.

However, Smith has not yet received consistent support from his teammates with none of them recording a top-20 finish in the first two events of the year. Consequently, the Rippers have fluctuated between a fourth-spot finish in Mayakoba and a disappointing 10th out of 13 in Las Vegas.

Making matters perhaps even more challenging for the all-Australian Rippers is that they will not have entirely happy memories of LIV Golf Jeddah last year when a week that began superbly well for them ended with collective disappointment as they finished 11th on the team leaderboard after the regular-season finale.

Smith had arrived in Jeddah occupying the No. 1 spot in pursuit of the season-long individual title but he had to settle for second place behind Talor Gooch after closing with a 4-under 66 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. That gave Smith a 6-under total of 204 and 25th spot on the individual leaderboard.

Next best for the Rippers was Matt Jones, who placed 27th at 6-under after carding a 2-under 68 that included five birdies, one bogey and a double at the par-4 second.

Marc Leishman, who started the week in red-hot form as he seized a one-stroke lead with an opening 65, closed with a 68 for 32nd place while Jediah Morgan wound up in 47th spot after struggling to a 76 that included five bogeys and a double.

Since last season, the Rippers lineup has changed with Morgan making way for three-times DP World Tour winner Lucas Herbert, and he will be looking to maintain the good form he produced last week at the International Series Oman. Herbert, who filled the roster spot left open after the relegation of Morgan, tied for 10th place in Oman after shooting scores of 70, 69, 67 and 72 at Al Mouj Golf.

This week, the Rippers will certainly want to remember the opening round at Royal Greens last year when they ended up in a two-way tie at the top of the team leaderboard with Crushers GC. After that, they steadily lost ground in rounds two and three in Jeddah – a memory they will want to forget.

The Rippers can also reflect on a largely successful 2023 season. With Smith leading superbly by example, they produced a team win in Bedminster, a runner-up spot in London and five other top-seven finishes in 13 regular-season starts. They had high hopes going into the season-ending Team Championship in Miami but had to settle for ninth place in the team standings after being upset 2-1 by the 10th-seeded Cleeks in the match-play quarterfinal round.

On the individual front, Smith won twice last year in 13 LIV Golf starts while notching up four other top-10s to wind up second in the overall standings. Leishman placed 18th after ending 2023 with three top-eight finishes in his last five starts.

Through the good and the bad, Ripper GC has always relied on strong team chemistry and this week in Jeddah will be no different.

"It's a really cool aspect of this Tour that, whether you're playing really well or not so great the first two days, there's so much to play for both individually and on the team side of it," said Leishman. "We're all really good mates on this team ... all the camaraderie off the course and having guys that you want to play well right there with you. It's a great vibe, and it's really fun."