Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes, LIV Golf Correspondent
Jun 17 2024
- 4 MIN
Ripper Herbert Preview STORY Image

NASHVILLE, Tennessee - A one-week break from LIV Golf competition mightn't have been a bad thing for Ripper GC as the all-Australian combination recharged its batteries after a sloppy finish to LIV Golf Houston earlier this month.

As they now prepare for Friday's opening round at The Grove in LIV Golf Nashville, the Rippers will look to bounce back from a disappointing 10th-place finish in Texas where they had been bidding for a rare third victory in a row.

The Rippers had arrived at the Golf Club of Houston as the league's hottest team after posing back-to-back successes at LIV Golf Adelaide and LIV Golf Singapore, and for a few hours during the final round they were on track for yet another win.

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 the Rippers into a tie for first place with Fireballs GC at 30-under.

Herbert apart, however, the Rippers failed to build on that momentum and they fell back down the leaderboard into 10th spot.

"It looked good there for a while, but unfortunately it didn't come through for us," said Herbert, who ended a fruitful week in the heat of Texas to finish in a tie for sixth. "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.

"Obviously it didn't end the way we wanted to, 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."

While Herbert ended a successful tournament at the Golf Club of Houston, Leishman finished 24th after carding a 70, Jones tied for 39th after returning a 73 and Smith shared 48th spot after struggling over his closing holes before signing for an 80.

Still, that sloppy Sunday finish was out of character for a team that oozes class and makes the most of remarkable chemistry.

"We have such a good time together, and I think that's one of the aspects that makes our team so good," said Jones. "We're such good friends and we have a good time hanging out."

Leishman agreed: "I'm genuinely excited every time I go to an airport now to come to a tournament. Obviously it's very serious golf and there's a lot on the line and you're playing for each other, but it almost feels a little bit like we're going on a boys' trip every time we go to a golf tournament, which I love.

"We've got to pull the reins in every now and again if we get a bit excited, but it's awesome to be traveling the world with these lads."

The Rippers currently occupy fourth spot in the season-long standings, after celebrating an emotional victory in front of a raucous home crowd in Adelaide and then making it two wins out of two the following week in Singapore.

"I think internally that we're the best team out here, and we're going to be tough to beat when we all have our best stuff," said Leishman. "I think we're going to be tough to beat for the rest of the season."

Although they made a somewhat mediocre start to this year by their customary high standards and did not finish well in Houston, the Rippers have certainly found their stride. They lead the putting charts and rank third in scrambling and fourth in birdies.

"All the boys have played really well," said Smith. "We just keep pushing each other. Herby has been a great addition. He's got that young blood in him, and he wants everyone to do well. He keeps pushing the old boys. It's a really good mix of golfers and we've got a really good mix of personalities. We just gel so well."