LIV’s Talor Gooch receives special invitation to PGA Championship

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For the first time since the onset of the PGA Tour-LIV Golf divide, a LIV golfer has been awarded a position in a major championship due primarily to his performance on the 54-hole team-format tour.

Talor Gooch, who joined the Saudi-backed Tour in May 2022, announced via X (formerly Twitter) that the PGA of America has extended a special invitation to compete in next week’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. The PGA of America also extended an invitation to LIV’s David Puig, the 22-year-old Arizona State product who recently won the Malaysian Open and qualified for the Open Championship.

“Looking forward to Valhalla next week!” Gooch wrote on X. “Thank you for the invitation PGA. See ya’ll there.”

The PGA of America (the governing body of the PGA Championship) traditionally invites the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 100 players to compete at the PGA. Gooch is currently ranked No. 644, while Puig is No. 106. LIV Golf tournaments are not recognized in the ranking system, and Gooch only teed it up in only six OWGR-official events since joining LIV. However, after leaving the PGA Tour, Gooch won three times on LIV and finished as the league’s 2023 individual champion. His sole PGA Tour victory came at the 2021 RSM Classic, six months before joining the upstart league.

LIV’s Joaquin Niemann notably received a special invitation to the Masters last month, but the Chilean intentionally traveled around the world to play in tournaments outside of LIV Golf and earn his place in the majors. Niemann won the Australian Open in December and placed in the top five in three DP World Tour events. Gooch, however, has not made the same effort. He played in the Hong Kong Open in November and the Saudi International last winter, but other than those two starts, the 32-year-old has not played outside of LIV. Gooch’s invitation to the PGA Championship indicates that the tournament’s organizers recognize his performance on the Saudi-backed tour.

Gooch has been especially outspoken about his exclusion from major championships. He was eligible for the Masters, the PGA Championship and the Open Championship last season due to his PGA Tour performance before joining LIV. But the USGA changed its eligibility rules and Gooch could not tee it up at Los Angeles Country Club in 2023 for the U.S. Open.

In a news conference last week in Singapore, Gooch announced that he would not attempt to qualify for the 2024 U.S. Open, despite 35 LIV players trying their hand at final qualifying in the coming weeks.

“I’m not,” Gooch said when asked if he would be qualifying. He did not offer further explanation.

Gooch also garnered attention when he said that if Rory McIlroy were to have completed the career grand slam at the Masters, the accolade would have needed an “asterisk” due to the absence of LIV players from the field. Yet 13 LIV golfers teed it up at Augusta this year.

The full PGA Championship field list has not been released. Brooks Koepka, the defending champion, is a LIV member and hoisted the individual trophy at LIV Singapore last week.

(Photo of Talor Gooch: Megan Briggs / Getty Images)

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