Written by
Joy Chakravarty, LIV Golf Correspondent
Jun 11 2024
- 4 MIN
Fireballs Houston recap Puig STORY image

HUMBLE, Texas – Powered by a career-best performance by David Puig, the youngest member of the team, and another brilliant display by Captain Sergio Garcia, Fireballs GC recorded their second straight podium finish at LIV Golf Houston.

Despite two playoff seconds by Garcia and Abraham Ancer’s win in Hong Kong, a podium finish had eluded Fireballs until Singapore, the seventh event of LIV Golf’s 2024 season, where they tied with Cleeks GC for second place at Sentosa Golf Club.

And just like Cleeks, who won their first team title at Golf Club of Houston, the all-Spanish speaking team also continued to trend in the right direction, although they fell short of ultimate glory by two shots.

With rounds of -12, -14 and -5, Fireballs were tied for second place with Smash GC at 29-under. Sunday’s 5-under may have looked like the deciding factor - but it was still the fourth-best round of the day when the golf course played tough. It looked average only because Cleeks combined for 12-under and Smash for 14-under.

Fireballs were still in 8th place in the Team Standings despite the finish, but improved their points tally to 61.83.

The disappointment of not winning the team title (their last team win was in Jeddah at the end of last year) was made up somewhat by Puig’s solid performance.

Puig, who has been in stunning form in non-LIV Golf events, and is headed to Pinehurst after qualifying with medalist honour for this week’s US Open, was in contention well into the third round before champion Carlos Ortiz pulled away midway through the round.

The 22-year-old shot rounds of 68, 66 and 69, to finish on 13-under par and tied third alongside Houston resident Patrick Reed of 4Aces. That bettered his previous best of a 4th-place finish at Greenbrier last year when he was part of Torque GC and only his third top-10 in LIV Golf.

“I am a bit disappointed that I had a chance to win the tournament and I could not complete the job,” said Puig, who led the birdie tally for the week with 20 over the three days.

“I mentioned before the tournament that I really wanted to win on LIV Golf. I know how to win and I am sure I can do it against some of the biggest names in world golf here.

“It has helped me jump quite a few places in the Individual Standings and this is just the kind of solid week that you want before a major championship, especially a US Open.”

Puig, who improved to 28th place with 26.08 points, well inside the Open Zone of players ranked 25th to 48th, had two sensational stretches during the tournament – he made four straight birdies from holes 1 to 4 on Friday, and then closed with five birdies in his last seven holes on Saturday to tie for the lead at -10.

Garcia, who has lost in playoffs this season at Mayakoba and Miami, closed with a superb 5-under 67, but that round also featured an uncharacteristic double bogey on his third hole of the day. That saw him close on -12 and in solo fifth place, but it could have been a lot closer to his first win on LIV Golf.

The 2017 Masters champion was second in fairways hit and fourth in greens in regulation for the week, a testimony to how well he was striking the ball. The performance helped him climb four places in the Individual Standings to 6th with 81.82 points.

The consistent Ancer finished tied 24th with rounds of 75, 66 and 71 despite a torrid start on Friday when he made four bogeys in his first six holes. The Mexican star dropped to 9th place in the Individual Standings with 71.97 points.

Eugenio Chacarra, the fourth member of the team, who also qualified for the US Open and will make it three Fireball members at Pinehurst (Garcia also made it as the first alternate), had a disappointing closing round of 3-over 75 to drop down to tied 41st place and outside the points.

Field ranking in parentheses

Fairways Hit
Puig – 29 (T8)
Garcia – 33 (2)
Ancer – 30 (7)
Chacarra – 20 (T46)

Greens in Regulation
Puig – 38 (T20)
Garcia – 41 (T4)
Ancer – 39 (T13)
Chacarra – 31 (52)

Total Putts
Puig – 84 (T8)
Garcia – 88 (T29)
Ancer – 90 (T39)
Chacarra – 81 (4)

Total Birdies
Puig – 20 (1)
Garcia – 15 (T9)
Ancer – 11 (T37)
Chacarra – 13 (T20)

Driving Distance Avg.
Puig – 318.7 (9)
Garcia – 303.4 (33)
Ancer – 296.1 (46)
Chacarra – 310.5 (22)