Gooch claims $18 million for being top LIV golfer of 2023

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BY LIV GOLF STAFF

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia – Brooks Koepka won another playoff, and Fireballs GC enjoyed another team victory. But on the final day of the 2023 LIV Golf League regular season, Talor Gooch had the biggest reason to celebrate.

The RangeGoats GC star shot an 8-under 62 Sunday at LIV Golf Jeddah presented by ROSHN to secure the Individual Champion crown. It’s the first full-season title Gooch as ever won in his golf career, and it earns him an $18 million bonus.

“It’s awesome,” said Gooch, who won a league-best three times this season. “From January 1st until now, that’s what we’ve been working for. So to get here and be the champion, man, I’m proud. I’m honored. And I’m excited.

“It was a day that you dream of – for the score and the moment. It was a special, special day.”

It was a special day for many LIV golfers at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.

Smash GC captain Brooks Koepka celebrates winning the Individual Champion title of LIV Golf Jeddah presented by ROSHN at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club (Photo by Montana Pritchard/LIV Golf)

Koepka, the Smash GC captain, successfully defended his Jeddah title and in similar fashion to last year – by winning an extended playoff. Last year, it was a three-hole playoff against Peter Uihlein; this time, it took him two holes to subdue Gooch, who had already guaranteed his season-long title no matter the playoff’s outcome.

Koepka forced the playoff with a birdie at the par-5 18th to close out his 2-under 68 in the final round, leaving him tied with Gooch at 14 under for the tournament. He then birdied the 18th twice in the playoff.

“It’s been great. It’s been fantastic,” said Koepka about his successful title defense. “It’s always a good feeling. Super proud of the way I played today.”

By winning the tournament, Koepka also moved into third place in the Individual standings, overtaking Bryson DeChambeau, who finished at 8 under after an even-par 70, leaving him 16th on the points leaderboard. DeChambeau needed to finish 13th or better to hold off Koepka.

“I really didn’t think I had a chance,” said Koepka, who earns a $4 million bonus for third. “I don’t know how many points Bryson had to have or to get, but I felt like I had to win, and I did my part. … Super fortunate to kind of squeak in there.”

Ripper GC Captain Cameron Smith, who entered the week atop the Individual points standings, finished at 6 under after his final-round 66. That left him 25th and with no points for the week. He finished with 170 points to Gooch’s 192.

Seeds for next week’s season-ending Team Championship in Miami were also finalized, with 4Aces GC, Crushers GC, Torque GC and RangeGoats GC securing byes for Friday’s Quarterfinals.

Fireballs GC’s Abraham Ancer, Eugenio Chacarra, Captain Sergio Garcia, Carlos Ortiz and their caddies celebrate the team victory for LIV Golf Jeddah at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club (Photo by Montana Pritchard/LIV Golf)

Fireballs Captain Sergio Garcia challenged for the individual title most of the day before finishing two strokes shy and in a three-way tie for third with Scott Vincent and Harold Varner III. Still, he found the top of the podium with his team, as Abraham Ancer (64), Carlos Ortiz (64) and Eugenio Chacarra (67) supplied a counting score of 15 under to finish at 34 under for the week. It’s their second win of the season and third overall.

The Fireballs were already eliminated from bye consideration, but with a second-place in Chicago and a win in Jeddah in their last two starts, they will enter the Team Championship with plenty of momentum.

“We know how much Miami means, so hopefully we’ll be able to keep that going and make it fun.”

The Iron Heads’ Vincent also had a special week, as he moved into the top-24 Lock Zone and secured his spot for next year’s LIV Golf League. Vincent followed his 62 on Saturday with a 66 on Sunday to finish at 12 under. After the tiebreakers, he claimed fourth in the points leaderboard, giving him enough points to move into 22nd in the season-long standings.

“It’s been incredible,” said Vincent. “I can’t tell you how many high fives I just received from so many different people.”


 

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Ken MacLeod

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