Koepka wins LIV Jeddah; Gooch takes season-long prize

Koepka wins LIV Jeddah; Gooch takes season-long prize
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There were two winners Sunday at LIV Golf Jeddah.

Brooks Koepka defeated Talor Gooch in a two-hole playoff at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia, but Gooch’s runner-up was enough to secure the season-long title and $18 million bonus.

“You’ve got 48 of the best players in the world with some legends and some current great players, major champions,” said Gooch, whose closing 62 forced extra holes at 14 under and allowed him to bump Cameron Smith to second in overall points. “When you’re playing all kind of courses across the world in different climates, in different parts of the world and back home in the States and everything over the span of a season, to beat everybody over the course of that, it speaks volumes to the quality of golf that you’ve played.

“For me, it’s a validation to all the hard work, all the patience and the years it took to get my game to this spot to, I think, be considered one of the best players in the world.”

Gooch won three times this season while collecting $15,137,066 in prize money in addition to his lucrative bonus. The successful campaign came after he was exchanged for Peter Uihlein following his role in helping the 4Aces to the team title in LIV’s debut season, a move that coincided with some motivating comments by Gooch’s former teammate Dustin Johnson.

According to Gooch, Johnson told Gooch following their team victory in Maimi last year, “Enjoy Miami because you’re never going to see this again.” Johnson then told reporters at the start of this season, “I think the team is as strong as it was last year, if not stronger. I feel like we’ve got the better end of the deal here with Pete.”

After his triumph Sunday, Gooch was asked if he played with a chip on his shoulder, to which Gooch responded, “I think I always play with a chip on my shoulder. … I’ve gone under the radar, if you will, which is fine. But for me, it’s a driving factor. Then you circle all the way around to the end of last season with what DJ had said and being on the new team, it’s motivating for sure.”

While Gooch ended up 22 points ahead of Smith, Koepka passed Bryson DeChambeau for third and a $4 million bonus. Koepka also earned $4 million for his win, his second of the season, which came after he birdied No. 18 twice after an 8-foot par save in regulation.

“I had to birdie it every time I felt like,” said Koepka, who defeated Peter Uihlein in a three-hole playoff at this event last year. “Talor has been playing so well the whole year, all week. He played a hell of a round today. You had to make birdie, maybe even a 3 just to beat him. Got super lucky, and I kind of had the same putt I did in regulation, which also helped knowing the speed and how fast it was.”

LIV wraps up its season with next week’s team championship in Doral, Florida. Koepka’s Smash team is eighth in the standings while Gooch’s RangeGoats are fourth, 13 points behind the leading Aces.

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