Stinger GC lead LIV Golf Hong Kong, Burmester and Ancer tied at top of individual standings

HONG KONG: Disappointed in not winning last week’s team title in Jeddah after starting the final round with a seven-shot lead, Stinger GC entered LIV Golf Hong Kong determined to make amends.

So far so good through one round — although a persistent and familiar nemesis is lurking again.

Led by Dean Burmester’s 7-under 63, the Stingers grabbed the first-round lead at historic Hong Kong Golf Club with a team score of 16 under.

That is one shot better than Bryson DeChambeau’s Crushers GC, the team that rallied past the Stingers last Sunday in a scintillating record-tying final-round 20-under performance.

“It was obviously a tough pill to swallow,” Burmester said. “I saw Bryson in the locker room, and I used some language. But all in good spirits. I was like, damn, you guys are tough to beat …

“We had a good week last week and the Crushers did something crazy on Sunday, but I see they’re right behind us again. Hopefully we can do something to them this week.”

Burmester and Fireballs GC’s Abraham Ancer share the individual lead, one stroke ahead of the six-man chasing pack that includes Burmester’s captain Louis Oosthuizen, Crushers’ Charles Howell III, Fireballs GC’s Eugenio Chacarra, 4Aces GC’s Harold Varner III, Ripper GC’s Matt Jones and Cleeks GC Captain Martin Kaymer, whose 64 is his lowest score in a LIV Golf tournament. Another stroke back is DeChambeau and Smash GC Captain Brooks Koepka.

The 54-player field, the most highly decorated to compete at Hong Kong Golf Club, provided the appreciative fans with plenty of impressive scoring on a jam-packed leaderboard. At one point, 12 players were tied for the lead at 5 under before Burmester and Ancer separated themselves with late birdies. A total of 44 players shot par or better.

“It’s crazy, right? Crazy,” said Howell, one of seven players to produce a bogey-free round. “Never thought that, how low the scores are with this golf course. It’s a testament to the strength of field and how good these guys really are.”

“I didn’t think there was going to be that many low numbers, but I don’t know, I guess it’s just playing perfect,” added Ancer, who was also bogey-free. “The greens are really good. There’s just a lot of guys that are playing really good at this time.”

Burmester almost did not play at all. He fell ill earlier in this week, and was nauseous on Tuesday, preventing him from practicing. Oosthuizen was also sick, but both managed to rebound.

Burmester said that it reminded him of the stomach bug he suffered last December at the South African Open, when he was throwing up on the course and nearly withdrew. He finished that week by winning the tournament.

“Seems to be every time I get ill, I seem to play OK,” Burmester said, “so that’s great news.”

Below are the standings and counting scores for Friday’s opening round of the team competition at LIV Golf Hong Kong. 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.STINGER GC -16 (Burmester 63, Oosthuizen 64, Grace 67)

2. CRUSHERS GC -15 (Howell III 64, DeChambeau 65, Casey 66)

T3. FIREBALLS GC -12 (Ancer 63, Chacarra 64, Garcia 71)

T3. CLEEKS GC -12 (Kaymer 64, Bland 66, Meronk 68)

5. RIPPER GC -11 (Jones 64, Smith 67. Leishman 68)

6. 4ACES GC -10 (Varner III 64, Reed 67, Perez 69)

7. TORQUE GC -9 (Munoz 66, Niemann 67, Ortiz 68)

T8. SMASH GC -7 (Koepka 65, Gooch 69, McDowell 69)

T8. MAJESTICKS GC -7 (Stenson 66, Poulter 66, Horsfield 71)

T10. IRON HEADS GC -6 (Na 67, Vincent 67, Lee 70)

T10. LEGION XIII -6 (Rahm 67, Hatton 68, Vincent 69)

12. HYFLYERS GC -5 (Tringale 66, Ogletree 69, Steele 70)

13. RANGEGOATS GC -4 (Wolff 67, Watson 68, Pieters 71)

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