Should Gooch have gotten PGA Smooch?

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M. James Ward examines how the self-centered player arrives at Valhalla and why the expectations are now squarely on his shoulders this week.
Posted on
May 16, 2024
by
M. James Ward in
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

LOUISVILLE, KY. The most famous Louisville sports star was Muhammed Ali and the illustrious boxer was famous in saying , "it's not bragging if you can do it." Ali routinely sounded off on his own praises but more often than not backed them up in the boxing ring.

For this week's PGA Championship, the PGA of America extended invitations to 16 players who now call LIV their home base of operations.

One of those players is Talor Gooch. In 2023, the 32-year-old had three wins on the LIV circuit and was named Player-of-the-Year. As the 2024 came rolling along Gooch proclaimed his entitlement to direct entry into the four major championships in golf.

Gooch was under the impression his performance on LIV was sufficient enough for such consideration. Keep in mind, that no world ranking points are given for such finishes because the 54-hole events are not deemed to be worthy of such allocation of valuable points.

How has the former Oklahoma State star golfer done in the majors?

In his last seven starts - spanning 2022 and 2023 - Gooch's best finish is T14 at the 2022 Masters. Included among those finishes is three missed cuts. In sum – the record is hardly noteworthy.

Keep in mind, Talor has the capacity to say things that are simply foolish and have him come off as clueless. For example, Gooch mentioned if Rory McIroy should complete the career Grand Slam with a win at this year's Masters that an asterisk would be needed to be placed next to his name given the lack of players competing from LIV in the event.

"If Rory McIlroy goes and completes his grand slam without some of the best players in the world, there's just going to be an asterisk," Gooch said. "It's just the reality. I think everybody wins whenever the majors figure out a way to get the best players in the world there."

Keep in mind, such beliefs come from a player with one PGA Tour coming during the Fall Series in the 2021 RSM Classic. That's hardly worthy of being treated in a special manner.

LIV Players signed up for final qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst

Abraham Ancer, Dean Burmester, Laurie Canter, Eugenio Chacarra, Serio Garcia, Branden Grace, Lucas Herbert, Sam Horsefield, Matt Jones, Jason Kokrak, Jimichiro Kozuma, Anirban Lahiri, Danny Lee, Marc Leishman, Graeme McDowell, Sebastian Munoz, Kevin Na, Joaquin Niemann, Andy Ogletree, Carlos Ortiz, Mito Pererira, David Puig, Patrick Reed, Kalle Samooja, Charl Schwartzel, Brendan Steele, Henrik Stenson, Caleb Suratt, Hudson Swafford, Cameron Tringale, Peter Uihlein, Harold Varner III, Kieran Vincent, Scott Vincent and Lee Westwood

Gooch said he won't be following a path towards the qualifying events for the respective majors joining two others from LIV who will do likewise. In fact, Talor believes his performance in LIV merits an automatic exemption in the biggest events in the sport.

There's a word for such behavior – chutzpah!

The golf world is centered around one key word – meritocracy.

In sum - you earn your position with your play - not your mouth.

To play golf at the highest of levels the inherent desire to compete is a central factor. And that can mean going through the qualifying process to secure a spot in the field. No less than Arnold Palmer did so on a few occasions when his previous exemptions had run their course. If someone like Arnie could go through the process – than Gooch can do likewise.

While Gooch may believe he's earned an exemption into the various majors because of his LIV play – the reality he is wasting valuable time in not opting to compete for the available spots through the qualifying process.

The certainty of one's golf game is never an absolute guarantee. Matters can change quickly. Seizing the moment when presented lies at the core of what constitutes competition.

Gooch needs to realize self-entitlement is a bad optic for any player. One's status at the highest level in professional golf comes from showing the results when the situations matter most. Performances via LIV outcomes merits attention but the kind that generates the most impact is in major championships.

The PGA of America extended itself in providing invites to 16 players from LIV into its flagship event.
Will the results from those players be there to see after 72 holes?

Gooch has a platform to show he has the game worthy of future intersections at the golf's premier events.

Years ago, when Palmer was growing up and his father Deacon was observing his son warming-up, a young Arnie was exuberant in how he was striking the golf ball and turned to his Dad and said - "Not bad, huh?"

Deacon's face grew serious and he stated the following to his son. "Arnold, when you're good – you don't have to tell them. They'll tell you."

That's a lesson Talor needs to fully embrace. Do what all the other great champions have done through the years. Let your clubs do your talking and the rest takes care of itself.

Gooch will be at Valhalla for a possible resetting for what the rest of his career brings to bear.

Golf scores speak volumes for the ultimate disposition of what a golfer is about. The rest is just noise.

It's been said many times that one has two ears and one mouth. The former should be used twice as much as the latter.

Is Talor listening?

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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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