RIPPERS LOSE GROUND IN VEGAS; JONES FARES BEST IN FINAL ROUND
LAS VEGAS – Matt Jones was the only Ripper GC player to dip under par in the final round of LIV Golf Las Vegas on Saturday as strong winds and chilly conditions made scoring tricky for the entire field.
Veteran Jones bogeyed two of his first six holes at Las Vegas Country Club before rebounding with birdies at the fifth, eighth and 10th en route to a 1-under 69 and a tie for 34th place at 1-under.
With Marc Leishman carding an even 70, captain Cameron Smith a 72 and Lucas Herbert battling to a 76, the all-Australian combination slipped from seventh place in the team standings overnight to wind up in 10th spot.
All in all, a disappointing finish after they had narrowly missed out on a podium spot by placing fourth at the season-opening LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico last week.
However, the Rippers have too much quality to be down for long and, with a team chemistry that is very special, they will expect to bounce back to their customary form when the third event of the 2024 season, LIV Golf Jeddah, takes place from March 1-3 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.
Last year, the Rippers' campaign was highlighted by a team win in Bedminster, a runner-up spot in London and five other top-seven finishes in 13 regular-season starts. Expect more of the same, or even better, this season.
Smith contended strongly for the individual title early on in the final round of the LIV Golf Mayakoba last week before tying for eighth and in Las Vegas he opened with scores 67 and 66 before losing steam in Saturday's windy conditions at Las Vegas Country Club.
He birdied the fourth, his second hole of the day, to get to 8-under but then faltered with bogeys at the ninth and 11th before responding with further birdies at the 15th and the 17th. Smith's progress was rocked by a triple-bogey seven at the 18th before he birdied the first and bogeyed the second on the way to a tie for 15th place at 5-under.
Long regarded as one of the best putters in the game, Smith won twice during the 2023 LIV Golf League season while notching up four other top-10s to wind up second in the overall standings. He continues to be a major force in the league.
Leishman produced a mixed bag in Saturday's final round in Las Vegas, recording six birdies, four bogeys and a double at the 18th before finishing at 4-under in a share of 21st place.
Three-times DP World Tour winner Herbert, who has filled the roster spot left open after the relegation of Jediah Morgan, had made an encouraging start in Las Vegas with opening scores of 68 and 67. However, he battled on Saturday as he recorded double-bogeys at the 18th, ninth and 15th - along with two bogeys and two birdies - to end up in a tie for 45th at 1-over.