All eyes on red-hot Gooch as LIV Tulsa approaches

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Photo: Talor Gooch of RangeGoats GC and his caddie seen during the final round of LIV Golf Adelaide at the Grange Golf Club on Sunday, Apr. 23, 2023 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf)

By Ken MacLeod

For many reasons, all eyes are on Talor Gooch as LIV Tulsa approaches May 12-14 at Cedar Ridge Country Club straddling Broken Arrow and Tulsa.

First reason is his amazing play. Gooch, the 31-year-old Midwest City native and Oklahoma State graduate last week became the first player to win consecutive events on LIV since it was founded in 2022. He won twice overseas, shooting 20-under in the first two rounds to win in Australia then holding off Sergio Garcia in a playoff to win in Singapore.

“It’s fun whenever the golf gods are telling you it’s your time,” Gooch told Golf Oklahoma Wednesday. “It’s really cool and special to be the first player to win back-to-back on LIV. I’m just trying to bottle this good play up and ride this wave as long as I can. Golf is a series of peaks and valleys and some weeks things don’t go your way.”

In the process of those two victories plus his four-man Range Goat’s team’s success in winning at Singapore, Gooch made $9.125 million in two weeks, though he revealed earlier that he had to leave nearly $2 million in Australia due to its 47.5 percent tax bite.

Still, that leaves a few bucks to help fund the Talor Gooch Foundation, which is already making a big impact in Oklahoma and will have a unique presence next week at LIV Tulsa.

Gooch, who was instrumental along with Charles Howell III in bringing an event to Oklahoma, has negotiated with LIV and with Cedar Ridge to have a sold-out fund-raising pro-am at the tournament site on Monday. He has convinced many of his LIV competitors to be in town early to participate, including Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Bubba Watson, Danny Lee, Matthew Wolff, Eugenio Chacarra, Howell and more.

The foundation has a party and auction on Sunday evening at Cedar Ridge and Gooch has also purchased a hospitality tent at the event which will also serve as a fund raiser. He hopes to raise close to $500,000 outside of any donations he makes off his recent winnings.

The foundation supports junior golf as well as charitable organizations such as Hope is Alive and Positive Tomorrows. Gooch recently title sponsored a new American Junior Golf Association event in Oklahoma and he has worked closely with the Oklahoma Golf Association to support the Oklahoma Junior Golf Tour.

Gooch’s sudden surge to the top of the LIV standings has focused the spotlight on the battle he and other LIV players are waging to secure access to golf ‘s four major championships. He was seemingly targeted when the USGA revised its criteria for the 2023 U.S. Open, adding wording that a player had to not only finish in the top 30 in the previous year’s FedEx Cup standings but also be eligible to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Gooch finished in the top 30 but was not eligible due to the suspension of all LIV players by the PGA Tour. He was the only player whose status for this year’s U.S. Open was affected by the new rule.

Even though he’s obviously one of the hottest golfers on the planet this spring, the USGA reiterated at its recent media day that it would not issue a special exemption. Gooch can play his way in with a strong finish in the PGA Championship that would raise his Official World Golf Ranking number from 60 safely into the 50s or lower. As it is now, the top 60 are invited but he will drop outside that before the deadline.

Gooch could have also entered his name in sectional qualifying and gone to the big qualifier outside of Columbus where numerous PGA Tour players outside the top 60 vie for spots each year. He chose not to do that.

“I’m not going to spend my time where I’m not wanted,” Gooch said.

Until and unless the OWGR makes a public decision on whether LIV players will earn points for their 54-hole, shotgun start events, Gooch said the ideal solution would be for the four major championships to agree on a system that grants automatic access to the top 12 (25 percent) players on the current LIV season points race.

“At the end of the day, why wouldn’t they want the top golfers in the world in their events,” Gooch said. “If you are Rory McIlroy going for the career grand slam, you wouldn’t want it to have an asterisk because many of the world’s top players were excluded. The majors have a responsibility to the history and lore of the game to be the place where the world’s best get together to compete.”

Cedar Ridge Country Club

LIV Tulsa notes: What type of challenge will Cedar Ridge present to the LIV field next week?

Well it certainly hasn’t been the ideal spring for growing in a luxuriant rough. Superintendent Eddie Roach Jr. has had his hands full getting all the collars and green surrounds that he had to replace this spring due to winter kill to knit in with barely any days of true Bermuda growing weather (highs in the 80s, lows in the 60s).

Roach said there is still a chance for solid growth over the final week leading up to the event. Meanwhile, the Cato-Crenshaw bent grass greens are in beautiful condition, firm and fast with no problem meeting LIV’s request of green speeds running between 11.5 and 12 on the stimp meter by tournament time.

“The greens plus any wind we get is the only defense the course is going to have,” Roach said. “We will see what Mother Nature brings us that week. (current projections call for about a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms each day).

The build out for the tournament has been rapid this week and fans will get a true taste of the LIV motto “Golf, but Louder.”

“It’s just a different feel,” Gooch said. “The music throughout, the fan zones, the shotgun start, the fact there are only 48 guys out there and you can easily see them all. Oklahomans love golf and they will really enjoy this format.”

Gooch also gave a hint, his Range Goats team captained by Bubba Watson has plans for a special four-legged guest on the range this week.

In addition to Gooch, there is a strong local contingent of players who have made an impact on LIV.  The field includes former Oklahoma University star Abraham Ancer and five players who competed at Oklahoma State University: Gooch, Eugenio Chacarra Charles Howell IIIPeter Uihlein, and Matthew Wolff. Players are in pursuit of the 2023 LIV Golf Individual Championship and 2023 Team Championship, and after five events, each of the top three players in the individual standings are former OSU Cowboys: Gooch (first), Uihlein (second) and Howell (third). The team standings, which decide seeding for the season-ending Team Championship, are currently led by 4Aces GC, captained by Johnson and featuring Uihlein, Pat Perez and former Masters champion Patrick Reed.

Fan festivities begin on Friday, May 12 at 9:30 a.m. local time when gates open Parking is free all three days at Oral Roberts University with shuttle busses provided in advance of the tournament’s 12:15 p.m. CT shotgun start on Friday and Saturday and noon start Sunday. Grounds passes for LIV Golf Tulsa start from $50 per day and are all-inclusive of the live music, fan activities, and golf competition. Youth 12 years and under receive complimentary admission to the tournament as do active-duty military and veterans, in addition to a guest. In celebration of Mother’s Day, a special offer going on sale soon to receive four tickets for the price of three for Sunday, May 14, will allow moms to attend for free with family and friends.

To purchase and learn more, visit

Ticket sales for the event have reportedly been brisk, with projections for up to 10,000 fans on a daily basis. That would seem to put LIV Tulsa far ahead of most of the previous stateside LIV events if not on pace with Australia which drew over 20,000 daily. Most of the limited corporate seating and hospitality packages sold out.

The course will play as a par-71 at just over 7,200 yards with the usual nine holes reversed for the tournament. The par-5 opening hole will be a par-4 10th hole.


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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source