Torque's Ortiz and Cleeks GC Earn First-Ever LIV Golf Titles

| Published 06/09/2024

Cleeks GC won their first-ever team title at LIV Golf Houston on Sunday. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/LIV Golf)

HUMBLE, TX -- Cleeks GC entered this week’s LIV Golf Houston as the last remaining club in LIV Golf’s young history to never celebrate either a team or individual trophy.

That changed on Sunday.

Captain Martin Kaymer’s team ended its drought in impressive fashion, shooting a three-day total of 33 under to win the team title at the Golf Club of Houston by two strokes over Smash GC and Fireballs GC.

In LIV Golf’s 30th tournament since its inception, the Cleeks finally popped champagne bottles atop the podium.

“This is why we signed up for LIV, to play for the team,” said Kaymer, whose team tied for second in the previous tournament in Singapore. “The individual is great, but to celebrate together and to do that together, this is why we came here, and this is why LIV exists, to have that team competition.”

The Houston individual title went to Torque GC’s Carlos Ortiz, who has celebrated four team victories but never an individual LIV victory. Ortiz shot a final-round 5-under 67 to finish at 15 under, one stroke ahead of the Cleeks’ Adrian Meronk. Houston-area resident Patrick Reed (4Aces GC) tied for third with David Puig (Fireballs GC) at 13 under.

For Ortiz, it’s his second win in Houston, as he won the Houston Open on a different course in 2020.

“I love playing here,” Ortiz said. “Obviously Texas treats me well. It's my adopted home state. I'm just happy to get it done again in Houston.”

After gaining separation from the rest of the pack, Ortiz and Meronk found themselves in a duel for most of the back nine. Tied going into the par-4 15th, Ortiz birdied the hole while Meronk bogeyed it after finding trouble off the tee and having to take a penalty drop.

Ortiz bogeyed the 18th hole after missing his only green of the day, but Meronk’s birdie attempt slipped past the cup.

“He played unbelievable, and he put pressure all the way to the end,” Ortiz said of Meronk. “It was a good battle.”

“He played really great,” Meronk said of Ortiz. “He really deserved it. I hope I can get him next time.”

Meronk shot a final-round 68 for his best result since joining LIV Golf in the offseason. While disappointed not to win the individual title, he was happy to be part of the Cleeks’ first team celebration.

“That's what's cool about LIV, to have three other guys with you on the team,” Meronk said. “Even if you don't win or you don't perform as you want individually, you still have that team standings.”

The Cleeks started the final round five shots off the lead. But during the final nine holes, the team collectively caught fire. Kaymer birdied five of six holes. Kalle Samooja birdied three of five holes. Meronk birdied three consecutive holes. Bland birdied two straight.

Suddenly, the Cleeks held a six-shot lead. But it evaporated quickly with three team bogeys in quick succession, and the lead was down to one in the final stretch. Bland’s birdie on his final hole, the par-4 11th, was huge, as it gave the Cleeks a two-stroke advantage and essentially sealed the outcome.

“I gave myself such a talking-to to the 11th, and I said, you'd better birdie this hole,” Bland recalled. “Fortunately I hit a great wedge shot to two feet and knocked it in.”

A few minutes later, the Cleeks were popping champagne.

“When you see other guys lifting trophies, of course, that's what you want to do,” Bland said. “It's easy to see that we were going in the right direction. We were. Today we were able to pull it off. What a great feeling. It's very, very special.”

Standings and counting scores for Sunday’s final round of the team competition at LIV Golf Houston. The three best scores from each team count in the first two rounds while all four scores count in the final round. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.

1. CLEEKS GC -33 (Bland 67, Meronk 68, Kaymer 70, Samooja 71; Rd. 3 score: -12)

T2. SMASH GC -31 (Koepka 65, Gooch 66, McDowell 69, Kokrak 74; Rd. 3 score: -14)

T2. FIREBALLS GC -31 (Garcia 68, Puig 69, Ancer 71, Chacarra 75; Rd. 3 score: -5)

T4. 4ACES GC -25 (Reed 68, Varner III 69, Johnson 70, Perez 77; Rd. 3 score: -4)

T4. CRUSHERS GC -25 (Lahiri 68, Catlin 71, DeChambeau 72, Casey 73; Rd. 3 score: -4)

T4. TORQUE GC -25 (Ortiz 67, Muñoz 70, Pereira 71, Niemann 77; Rd. 3 score: -3)

7. LEGION XIII -18 (Campbell 67, Hatton 71, Surratt 72, Vincent 72; Rd. 3 score: -6)

T8. MAJESTICKS GC -15 (Horsfield 66, Stenson 70, Westwood 70, Poulter 79; Rd. 3 score: -3)

T8. HYFLYERS GC -15 (Tringale 68, Ogletree 70, Mickelson 74, Steele 74; Rd. 3 score: -2)

10. RIPPER GC -13 (Herbert 69, Leishman 70, Jones 73, Smith 80; Rd. 3 score: +4)

11. STINGER GC -11 (Schwartzel 69, Burmester 70, Ormsby 71, Grace 74; Rd. 3 score: -4)

12. RANGEGOATS GC -10 (Uihlein 68, Wolff 73, Pieters 74, Watson 75; Rd. 3 score: -2)

13. IRON HEADS GC -4 (Kozuma 70, Vincent 70, Na 74, Lee 79; Rd. 3 score: +5)

ORTIZ’S FUTURE PLANS: LIV Golf Houston winner Carlos Ortiz won’t be able to take his winning form into next week’s U.S. Open, as he missed the cut in the final qualifier held two weeks ago in Dallas. But he potentially has a big summer of events.

“I've been playing great,” Ortiz said. “It's a shame I doubled the last hole to miss the qualifier. It hurt a lot. But I think with time, we're going to get back into the majors because I know that I'm one of the best players in the world right now, and I deserve to be there.”

Ortiz hopes to qualify for the Open Championship, and he is on pace to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris, representing his native Mexico.

GOALS CHANGE FOR CLEEKS: With a tie for second in Singapore and now a win in Houston, Cleeks GC has moved up to seventh in the points standings and is less than 30 points outside of third place, which is the final seed to earn a first-round bye at the Team Championship in Dallas in September.

With five tournaments left in the regular season, Captain Martin Kaymer said the team’s goals will now be adjusted.

“The goal has changed all of a sudden,” Kaymer said. “I would say if you would have asked me three, four weeks ago, is top 5 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. Singapore we did well (tied for 2nd). This week we did well. Now the goal has changed to try to get to the top three spots because it doesn't really matter if you finished fourth or 13th. So top 3 is the new goal.

“Now is the time we need to keep pushing. We need to keep working hard because 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 3.”

REED TIES FOR THIRD: Houston-area resident Patrick Reed produced his best result of the LIV Golf season, shooting a final-round 68 to tie for third with David Puig at 13 under. Reed’s previous best result this season was a tie for ninth in Miami.

The 4Aces GC star opened with a bogey on Sunday but closed with a flourish with birdies on three of his final five holes.

12 HEADED TO U.S. OPEN: The LIV Golf players scheduled to compete in the U.S. Open include Dean Burmester, Eugenio Chacarra, Bryson DeChambeau, Tyrrell Hatton, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Brooks Koepka, Adrian Meronk, Phil Mickelson, David Puig, Jon Rahm and Cameron Smith.

Meronk had the best result in Houston, finishing solo second, while Puig tied for third.

Rahm, who withdrew after six holes on Saturday with a foot infection, stayed in Houston on Sunday to support his team and will travel to Pinehurst on Monday.

WITH THE WINS: By winning the individual title, Carlos Ortiz moves into 11th place in the season-long standings. Teammate Joaquin Niemann remains the points leader. The Cleeks move into seventh place in the team standings, with Crushers GC remaining at the top.

RESERVES PLAY WELL: Three reserve players were in action for the final round in Houston, and each one performed well for their respective teams.

Ben Campbell, filling in for Legion XIII Captain Jon Rahm, shot a 5-under 67 for his team’s lowest score.

Wade Ormsby, filling in for Stinger GC Captain Louis Oosthuizen, followed his second-round 73 with a 1-under 71.

John Catlin, filling in the entire week for Crushers GC veteran Charles Howell III, also shot a final-round 71 to finish at 1 under for the tournament and in a tie for 24th.

Driving accuracy: Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka, Henrik Stenson, Richard Bland, Abraham Ancer, 85.71% (12 of 14 fairways hit)
Driving distance: Joaquin Niemann, 340.0 yards avg.
Longest drive: Mito Pereira, 361.5 yards, 13th hole
Greens in regulation: Carlos Ortiz, Brooks Koepka, 94.44% (17 of 18 greens)
Scrambling: Talor Gooch (5 of 5), Graeme McDowell (4 of 4), Mito Pereira (3 of 3), Brooks Koepka (1 of 1), 100%
Putting: Talor Gooch, Ben Campbell, 1.39 putts per hole
Bogey-free rounds: Talor Gooch (66), Graeme McDowell (69)

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