Riyadh polo team advances to semi-finals of Chestertons Polo in the Park 2024

HUMBLE: In an LIV Golf Houston leaderboard where a dozen players are three shots away from the lead, only one of them lives close enough to the course to commute from his Houston-area home.

Patrick Reed has never won a professional event in front of his hometown fans, but the 4Aces GC star has a chance to lift the trophy and enjoy a champagne celebration if he can emerge from what promises to be a shootout in Texas on Sunday at the Houston Golf Club.

“Having all that support and being able to stay home, it means a lot,” Reed said. “Hopefully we can go out there and … give them a show tomorrow and hopefully lift that trophy.”

First, he will have to overcome a quartet of leaders, two of whom have already had success in Houston.

Crushers GC’s Paul Casey, Cleeks GC’s Adrian Meronk, Torque GC’s Carlos Ortiz and Fireballs GC’s David Puig are each at 10 under, with Reed soloing fifth at 9 under. Casey won the Houston Open on this course in 2009, while Ortiz won the same tournament in 2020 after moving to Memorial Park.

Torque GC captain Joaquin Niemann and RangeGoats GC’s Matthew Wolff are tied for sixth at 8 under, with five other players at 7 under. Of those 12 players, only Niemann has won an LIV golf tournament — two victories, in fact, earlier this year in Mayakoba and Jeddah.

Fueled by 6-under 66s from Puig and Abraham Ancer, the Fireballs lead the team competition at 26 under, four shots ahead of Torque. Three teams – Crushers, 4Aces and Cleeks – returned to third place.

Casey, who shot his second straight 67 on Saturday, isn’t sure how much his success from 15 years ago will affect the final outcome. He is one of five players in the field who have won the Houston Open on this course.

“I know what it takes, but it doesn’t necessarily make things easier,” Casey said. “This has always been a tough test for golf. … This golf course has teeth, and just because I won doesn’t change anything.

Ortiz, who birdied four straight holes on his way to a 68 on Saturday, doesn’t expect to benefit from his experience. On the other hand, he admits to having a certain comfort level here.

“I like the golf course and the people,” Ortiz said. “I guess maybe that’s the confidence. I don’t know, but I played really well and I think I’m reflecting now.

Meronk was one of three co-leaders in the first round along with his captain Martin Kaymer and young Legion XIII player Caleb Surratt. As those two fell in the rankings, Meronk recovered from a rough start that included two bogeys in his first five holes to shoot a 69.

“He played pretty solid,” said Meronk, who joined LIV Golf shortly before the start of this season. “He could have been much shorter. I missed a couple of putts down the stretch. But I’m still pretty happy with my round and my position until Sunday.
Puig, meanwhile, began this week by claiming medal honors at the U.S. Open’s 36-hole qualifier in Northern California on Monday to earn a spot in next week’s major. He carried that momentum to Houston, opening with a 68, then shooting a 66 to close with five birdies in the final seven holes.

“It definitely gave me some confidence,” Puig said of his performance earlier in the week, “and I’m happy it’s paying off.”

Team score tally

Standings and score tallies for Saturday’s second round of team competition at LIV Golf Houston:

1. FIREBALL GC -26 (Ancer 66, Puig 66, Garcia 70; Score pt. 2: -14)

2. COUPLE GC -22 (Ortiz 68, Niemann 97, Muñoz 71; rd. 2 score: -8)

T3. CRUSHERS GC -21 (Casey 67, Lahiri 69, Catlin 70; Rd. 2 Score: -10)

T3. 4ACES GC -21 (Perez 68, Reed 68, Johnson 71; Score pt. 2: -9)

T3. CLEEKS GC -21 (Meronk 69, Bland 71, Kaymer 72; Score pt. 2: -4)

T6. SMASH GC -17 (Kokrak 66, McDowell 68, Gooch 71; Score pt. 2: -11)

T6. RIPPER GC -17 (Herbert 68, Smith 69, Jones 74; Score pt. 2: -5)

8. HYFLYERS GC -13 (Mickelson 69, Tringale 69, Steele 70; Rd. 2 Score: -8)

T9. RANGGOATS GC -12 (Wolff 67, Pieters 68, Watson 72; Score pt. 2: -9)

T9. MAJESTICKS GC -12 (Stenson 70, Poulter 72, Westwood 72; Rt. Score 2: -2)

T9. LEGION XIII -12 (Hatton 70, Vincent 70, Surratt 76; Rd. Score 2: E)

12. IRON HEADS -9 (Lee 72, Na 72, Kozuma 73; Rd. Score 2: +1)

13. STINGER GC -5 (Burmester 69, Schwartzel 72, Ormsby 73; rd. 2 score: -2)

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