Written by MIKE McALLISTER

This 2022 review of Stinger GC is part of a series of stories looking back at each of the 12 teams during the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational season. 
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Overview

Stinger GC will always have a spot in the LIV Golf record book by winning the team title in the inaugural event in London while sweeping the individual podium. In addition, Stingers Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace opened the season by winning the first two individual trophies – the only teammates with individual wins in 2022. By immediately embracing the team component, Louis Oosthuizen's team provided the blueprint for how to succeed in LIV's unique competitive format. It also prompted 4 Aces GC captain Dustin Johnson to overhaul his roster in hopes of beating the all-South African lineup.

As it turned out, the 4 Aces ended up beating everybody for the majority of the season. Meanwhile, the Stingers could never duplicate their early success. After a second-place finish in Portland, they never found the podium the rest of the way. Even so, the Stingers were competitive enough to earn a first-day bye at the Team Championship, while Grace claimed second place in the Individual Champion regular-season race behind Johnson.

Grace's oblique injury – he was forced to WD in Bangkok after sharing the first-round lead – and a disappointing result on the final day in Miami made for a bit of a sour second half of the season. Overall, though, the South Africans had fun and displayed the kind of team camaraderie and spirit that others hope to emulate in 2023.

Roster movement

The South African foursome of captain Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Hennie du Plessis played the first three events. Shaun Norris replaced du Plessis for the next four events before du Plessis rejoined the team for the Team Championship in Miami. The five players appearing for the Stingers were the fewest used by any team in 2022.

Player

Stinger GC starts

Louis Oosthuizen

8

Charl Schwartzel

8

Branden Grace

8

Hennie du Plessis

4

Shaun Norris

4

Top Moments

TEAM: LIV Golf's inaugural event in London was easily Stinger GC's most impressive performance. The team's winning total of 20 under was 14 strokes better than the next closest team; it was the largest margin of victory by any team in 2022. Charl Schwartzel had his best week of the season, and Hennie du Plessis – whom the other three South Africans barely knew prior to London – had a career-changing effort with a second-place finish. He earned three times more money in three days in London than he did the previous seven years since turning pro. With Branden Grace claiming third, the Stingers swept the individual podium – the only team to achieve that feat in 2022.

INDIVIDUAL: Playing in the final group on the final day in Portland, Branden Grace stared down eventual Individual Champion Dustin Johnson and new LIV member Carlos Ortiz to win at Pumpkin Ridge. Grace's 7-under 65 was two shots better than anybody else that day, as he sealed the deal with four birdies in his final six holes.

MVP

BRANDEN GRACE: He opened with a third-place finish, won the next event, and then finished in the points (top 24) in his next three starts. An opening 65 in Bangkok left him tied for first, but an oblique injury suffered early in the second round forced him to WD. It also left him in a precarious spot in the season-long Individual Champion race. He gamely played through the injury in Jeddah, and while he didn't finish in the points, he stayed in second place to claim the $8 million bonus.

Others considered: Charl Schwartzel's win in London was his high point, and he also produced two other top 10 finishes ... Captain Louis Oosthuizen had four top 10s (money leaderboard) in the first five events, and outlasted Bryson DeChambeau in 23 holes during their Semifinals singles match in Miami.

Regular Season Counting Scores

LONDON (-20), 1st place
Rd. 1: Schwartzel 65, du Plessis 66
Rd. 2: Schwartzel 66, du Plessis 68
Rd. 3: Grace 65, du Plessis 70, Oosthuizen 70
Prize earnings: $3,000,000

PORTLAND (-16), 2nd place
Rd. 1: Grace 69, du Plessis 70
Rd. 2: Grace 69, Oosthuizen 69
Rd. 3: Grace 65, Oosthuizen 69, Schwartzel 77
Prize earnings: $1,500,000

BEDMINSTER (-8), 5th place
Rd. 1: Grace 70, Schwartzel 70
Rd. 2: Schwartzel 69, Oosthuizen 71
Rd. 3: Grace 68, Oosthuizen 70, du Plessis 71

BOSTON (-18), 10th place
Rd. 1: Oosthuizen 66, Grace 67
Rd. 2: Grace 66, Oosthuizen 67
Rd. 3: Oosthuizen 67, Grace 68, Schwartzel 71

CHICAGO (-16), 5th place
Rd. 1: Oosthuizen 68, Schwartzel 69
Rd. 2: Schwartzel 69, Norris 70
Rd. 3: Oosthuizen 69, Schwartzel 71, Grace 71

BANGKOK (-20), 11th place
Rd. 1: Grace 65, Schwartzel 70, Norris 71
Rd. 2: Norris 69, Oosthuizen 72, Schwartzel 73
Rd. 3: Schwartzel 66, Norris 69, Oosthuizen 73

JEDDAH (-18), 9th place
Rd. 1: Schwartzel 64, Oosthuizen 68, Norris 69
Rd. 2: Schwartzel 67, Grace 69, Norris 69
Rd. 3: Grace 67, Oosthuizen 69, Schwartzel 70

Team Championship

SEMIFINALS: Beat Crushers GC, 2-1

  • Oosthuizen def. DeChambeau, 23 holes

  • Grace lost to Casey, 20 holes

  • Schwartzel/du Plessis def. Howell/Lahiri, 2 up

FINALS: 4th place (+10)

  • Schwartzel -1

  • Oosthuizen -1

  • Du Plessis +4

  • Grace +8

Prize earnings: $4,000,000

By The Numbers

1 - Holes led by Oosthuizen during his singles win over Bryson DeChambeau; the only hole he led was after the decisive 23rd hole that ended the match

3 – Times that Grace shot 65 during the regular season

– Top 10 individual point finishes by Stinger players (Schwartzel 1st, du Plessis 2nd, Grace 3rd in London; Grace 1st, Oosthuizen 5th in Portland; Oosthuizen 10th in Boston; Oosthuizen 6th, Schwartzel 7th in Chicago; Schwartzel 9th in Jeddah)

14 - Stinger GC's winning margin in London, largest of any winning team this season

40 – Greens in Regulation in London by du Plessis, tying for the best in the field that week

58% – Percentage of sand saves for all Stinger GC players, highest percentage of any team

64 – Lowest round shot by any Stinger player this season (Schwartzel, first round in Jeddah)

68.7 – Branden Grace's scoring average for his 19 regular season rounds

69.8 – Louis Oosthuizen's scoring average for his 21 regular season rounds

69.9 – Charl Schwartzel's scoring average for his 21 regular season rounds

70.0 – Scoring average for all Stinger GC players during the seven regular season events (course average was 71.0)

70% – Percentage of Greens in Regulation for all Stingers this season, the highest percentage of any team

71.3 – Shaun Norris' scoring average for his 12 regular season rounds with Stinger GC

72.1 – Hennie du Plessis' scoring average for his nine regular season rounds

The Final Word

STINGER CAPTAIN LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN

It's just great being part of a team. Every week we play now, it's all about the team. You know, it's fun. I've said it many times; golf needs more team events.

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